She’s led the fundraising effort for the project for close to a decade and is excited to see years of work come to fruition as the finishing touches are put on the building.

The original buildings on the Fairview-Brown campus were built in the 1920s exclusively for African-American children with guidance from Booker T. Washington and financing from Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck.

The restoration phase will restore the lone remaining building to the way it looked when it was added in the mid-1940s. It was listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Top Ten Places in Peril list in 2011.

Eric Davenport, with Savannah Construction and Preservation, said  once the challenge of stabilizing the building was completed, the restoration effort went very smoothly.

"It was relatively painless, we really had far less hurdles than we had anticipated on something like this," Davenport said. "This is a jewel in the rough. As bad as it looked to begin with, it behaved a whole lot better than we had anticipated."

He expects to be have the first phase of restoration complete by the middle of next week.

"We've got a few odds and ends, the electrical and the HVAC finished up, just some punch list stuff," Davenport said. 

Electricians Thomas and David Nix have been working on the wiring for the last couple of days, pulling wiring to boxes that are set into the walls at essentially the same level that original electrical outlets were located. Thomas Nix said that was considerably higher than modern standards, but the 29-inch level would have been true to the level that was used in the 1940s.

Old pull-chain ceiling light fixtures that were original to the building have been cleaned up and will be re-installed to accommodate old Edison-style light bulbs that were original as well.

When walking on the floor of the old school building, one can still feel that a joist in the  middle of the flooring is somewhat higher, but again, that is in keeping with the effort to save as much of the original building as was humanly possible.

Replacement flooring is obvious in some places as is replacement wood in the interior side walls.

Davenport said a handicapped ramp planned to go on the back side of the building was delayed until the second phase of the project and as additional funding is secured.

It took nearly a decade of fundraising, capped off in the last year by a challenge contribution from Wes Walraven and Brian Moore, owners of the Lyons Bridge Farm in Cave Spring, to get the restoration going.

Moore and Walraven agreed to contribute $75,000 if the community raised another $100,000 by the end of this past August. The community stepped up and met the challenge before the end of March.

Those funds, coupled with earlier grants and fundraising efforts, brought in enough money for restoration work to begin in September.

Davenport said if all goes well, their work should be completed by the middle of next week.