A Pleasant Re-Development: A Values MuseumJun 19, 2008
We all hear stories from parents, grandparents and seniors about how tough things were in their day. We know we're getting old when we hear ourselves telling our younger colleagues what they missed in our youth. There's always a degree of hyperbole associated with recollection. Still, there's more to it than the charm of a good yarn. So when we read in the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday that Shady Grove School in Louisa County has been saved — it's always a good day when a historic building is spared — we were happy (click here for entire article). It was a one-room school house with one teacher for grades one through seven. It was for black children. All had obstacles to overcome, but all did, and the school taught and instilled in them the values that gave them the tools to conquer life's troubles. Some who attended are those working the restoration and speak of the importance of what they learned there.
It is being saved by the combined efforts of a black Baptist church — Shady Grove Baptist — and Gum Spring United Methodist Church, a predominantly white congregation, two churches doing their share to end Sunday segregation. Shady Grove is the property owner. Its pastor, the Rev. Reginald Cleveland, gets right to the point about why the building is being saved and what it will be used for:
It will be a museum of values. When you point to this building, you are going to talk about the values of the past . . . so we can instill them in the present and future. Times change, but values and principles don't. (Click here to see a narrarated slide show of the restoration.)
Too many historic buildings are demolished for "redevelopment" projects; those saved but adapted for other purposes often lose their soul because their context is lost in the remodeling. The Shady Grove School museum will preserve its historic value because it will perpetuate its values, those universal truths it imparted to those who attended that school, the same values that made Virginia and America great; not the unfortunately transient themes so widely disseminated today in schools and in the broader culture. This is one development we are happy to hear about and one re-development we look forward to seeing and visiting. We encourage others to as well.