Our Neighborhoods | Heart and heritage of Myakka City contained in 1914 schoolhouse

jajones1@bradenton.comJune 22, 2014 

MYAKKA CITY -- The historic 1914 Myakka City schoolhouse is a time capsule, a survivor, and a work in progress.

In 1993, the 5,500-square-foot building was decommissioned as an active school building, cut in half and moved. It sat open and exposed to the elements for three years before being put back together on Wauchula Road.

For more than 20 years, Marilyn Coker, president of the Myakka City Historical Society, has stubbornly led the effort to restore the building. She envisions it as a place where community meetings could be held, and

where library services could be offered, complete with computer terminals.

The interior of the building remains unfinished, particularly in the auditorium, where the walls and ceilings are brown with the aged wood of bare rafters and wall studs.

"There is history in this building. If only the walls could talk," said historical society member Sherry Miller.

Standing in the former library, where lumber is stacked along a row of tall windows, another board member, Bonnie Carlton, recalled the past. "This was a busy room," she said.

Board member Dave Miller looked through a 100-year-old wooden cabinet in the principal's office and points out writing inside to indicate where keys were stored.

When a visitor sees all that remains to be done, it is easy to miss what has been accomplished.

The building has modern wiring and ductwork for air conditioning.

All of the 34 windows have been repaired and refurbished, it has been treated for termites, and the roof has been repaired. It's been painted, even though it now needs to be repainted inside and out.

Still to come are the insulation, interior drywall, gutters and more.

In its last years of active classroom use, the building had dropped ceilings and carpeting over the original hardwood floors.

The dropped ceilings have been removed, and the floors will be refinished.

"It will get done," said Sherry Miller.

Completion of the building is within reach, but the project has always been hampered by a shortage of funds.

"We're getting close. We estimate that we need another $150,000 to finish," Coker said.

Ideally, restoration would be completed this year in time for the 100th anniversary of construction of the building.

But whether it is completed or not, the historical society plans an open house in November.

At the open house last year, residents came up on the stage and shared their memories of the schoolhouse.

"It would bring tears to your eyes," Sherry Miller said.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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