Call it a cosmetic awakening. A restoration project has been done to preserve Crain Hill School and Church. The structure is celebrating its 145 birthday.
The Crain Hill School and Church is located at the Warren County and Van Buren County line. It was built in 1870 and was listed on Tennessee’s Historic Register on March 21, 1985.
Clarence “Red” Safley, who oversaw the cemetery/building for many years, was the one who submitted the building for consideration on the registry.
“We worked hard to restore the building,” said Warren County resident Jenny Hillis, who helped coordinate the effort. “It was a long process, but it means a lot to us to preserve this piece of history. I just couldn’t stand to see it in the condition that it was in. It had been allowed to deteriorate since the late '80s. This restoration should mean a lot to everyone in both counties.”
Along with $1,500 in matching funds from Woodmen of the World and donations collected to meet the match, McCormick & Sons Construction provided the labor and Custom Vinyl Signs provided the signs.
“I want to give thanks to everyone, all friends and families, community members and everyone who were so giving of their time, money, prayers and donations,” said Hillis. “We couldn’t have accomplished our goal without everyone’s help. We want to express our heart-felt thank you.”
Hillis says the building holds a special place in her heart.
“It means something to me and my kids,” she said. “My mother-in-law went to school there, as well as my mother. I went to church there all of my life, until I left home. All my family went to church there until it disbanded. I also have a lot of family buried in that cemetery.”
The restoration was inside and outside, including walls, windows, floors, roof, benches, and pulpit. Fundraising for the project started in August 2012 and restoration was recently completed.
Donations for future upkeep may be mailed to Crain Hill Cemetery Building Fund; c/o Home-land Community Bank; 900 Chancery Street; McMinnville, TN 37110. Funds will be used for maintenance.