There’s a fine balance to preserving a community’s history and making way for its inevitable need for change. There’s an instinct to hold tight to past.
It’s what makes decisions like the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors’ regarding the fate of the Banner Schoolhouse building so difficult. It’s been 60 years since the brick building has been used as a school and in the years since its closing, the structure has fallen into disrepair. Supervisors say the interior is collapsing, and the building would need a total renovation to bring it back into usable condition.
The better plan, they believe, is to tear the structure down to make way for an expanded volunteer fire department for the community. The station that’s there – housed in a small metal structure adjacent to the empty schoolhouse – is too small and is prone to flooding. Supervisors say the problem can’t be fixed with the schoolhouse still standing.
From a practical standpoint, razing the schoolhouse makes the most sense. But when have emotions ever been practical? Old structures like Banner’s schoolhouse have personal histories within their walls. People raised in that community undoubtedly have strong connections to that building. Even those who never set foot inside one of its classrooms recognize it as a familiar sight … a piece of local history that distinguishes the community from any other. We recognize the reluctance to let go a piece of the past, even while acknowledging that sometimes the only real choice is to open our hands.