The Gainestown Schoolhouse is a good example of an early 20th-century, two room schoolhouse. Although it has undergone significant restoration, it still retains most of its original features such as its form, framing members, weatherboards, windows and many interior features including the stage. The Gainestown Schoolhouse was built in 1919 as a one-room schoolhouse. It was expanded to a two-room building in 1930. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1992.
Gainestown’s first school, the Lambard School, was established in 1840. It eventually became Gainestown’s public school after the county started providing funds for schools in the 1880s. By 1900, the public school at Gainestown was located on the second floor of the Gainestown Methodist Church and shared quarters with the Gainestown Masonic Lodge. A “March 1911” storm virtually destroyed the church and as a result, the Gainestown School needed a new home. Land for a new school was purchased in 1919 and a one-room school building was built. Carved into a stone foundation pier of the school building is the date: October 3-4, 1919. It is believed that the entire community gathered on those two days and erected the building. A second room was added to the school in 1930. The Gainestown School was in continuous use until September 1952 when the County decided that it had become too small. At that time only six students were enrolled. The Gainestown School served students in grades 1 through 8 and they then moved on to one of the larger high schools in the county. After the school closed, the citizens of Gainestown petitioned the Clarke County School Board to deed them the school property for use as a community center. The Board agreed, and it was used as a local gathering place and voting precinct until the 1980s when the building had deteriorated to such a point that it was unusable. In 1989, the property was purchased by the Finlay family who own the Wilson-Finlay House (c. 1846, NRHP 1978) that’s located directly across the road from the school and the building was restored in 1990.
The Gainestown School is located beside CR 29 at Gainestown, AL (GPS coordinates 31.452833,-87.692528).
Sources: 1) ClarkeMuseum.com; 2) NRHP “Gainestown Schoolhouse” Continuation Sheet.
Photographs courtesy of RuralSWAlabama.