Local News

Granville County Remakes Old School

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OXFORD, N.C. — A lot of school systems in our area cannot put up new schools fast enough. Many old schools are just outdated. But one "new" old school is now the pride of Granville County.

If you pass through Oxford, you will be charmed by the nods to ages past. History echoes from graceful homes along College Avenue.

"I think they're just going to stand in awe of the way it looks because it looks entirely different from the way it looked," said Principal Cheryl Benson.

There is a new kid in this historical neighborhood, but it is also an old friend: Credle Elementary School.

Credle School was built in 1911, and it has never gone out of use. In fact, it is the oldest continually used school building in North Carolina. And there were some folks in Oxford who wanted to tear it down and build a brand new facility. But the Granville County schools thought they could do one better.

"We probably have five generations at least that have been to the school, so they were very much interested in preserving Credle School," said School Board member Dorothy Pruett.

Instead of knocking it down, the school district spent $3.5 million to refurbish the building. Now, it is an old shell with a new look.

Reynolds Strother went to grade school at Credle. So did his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The ECU art major is painting the U.S. School of Excellence Seal, which the school earned three years ago. He's leaving his mark at the school while he recalls the mark Credle left on him.

"It's that classroom right down there. That's where I met my girlfriend for the first time. We're still together!" said Strothers.

Granville Schools wanted more than merely useful space in this massive renovation.

The contractor saved beautiful architectual points, including windows which light the rooms very well.

The school is fully wired for computer and Internet use.

An old staircase marks the dividing line to the addition opened last year. An elevator makes the structure fit for disabled students and staff, and a new media center brings the school fully into the 21st century.

One last wing remains unimproved. It used to be called the new wing when it was built -- nearly 50 years ago. The former library in the former new wing will become a parent and community center.

Credle remains a useful structure, perhaps for another century.

"Instead of a make-do environment that we had before, with floors that wobbled and ceilings that rained down with debris with a squirrels-in-the-attic kind of feeling, we now have a substantial building, built on an old foundation. And it's sturdy and strong that will serve not just this generation, but generations and generations to come," said Jan Allen, the school's communications director.

A record 8,200 students are expected to attend Granville County classrooms. Edgecombe, Lee and Wayne County Schools also began the school year Monday.