Brick Paver Donation Form Click Here
On Thursday December 7th,
2006 Friends of Historic Northport moved the 1830 Umbria Schoolhouse to
Northport Community Center Park from the North River Historic Area.
The Umbria Schoolhouse is believed to
be the oldest standing school structure in Alabama.
Plantation was built for the Col. Samuel Pickens family about 1830 near
Sawyerville, Alabama ten
of the town of Greensboro. A 20’x20’ frame
schoolhouse was built at the same time. A
tutor held classes in the schoolhouse for the
children of Umbria for
In 1973 a fire destroyed Umbria, but
the schoolhouse escaped the blaze. Mrs.
Elizabeth Spigener, who owned the plantation at the time, donated the
States, and the building was moved to the North River Historical Area
in Tuscaloosa. The one-room schoolhouse
served the community well as a unique
heritage asset for over three decades.
After thirty-two years of use, Gulf
States gave the schoolhouse to the Tuscaloosa County Preservation
(TCPS) in December 2005. Along with the
schoolhouse, the 1838 Gainesville Bank building was also given to the
with a condition of having both building placed within one year. Susan Haynes, Executive Director of the
Preservation Society, began looking for new homes for both structures.
Friends of Historic Northport showed
interest in bringing the schoolhouse to Northport, and a committee was
to find a suitable location, secure funding, and determine how the
restoration would be completed.
The location would have to provide
easy public access as well as fitting in to FHN’s ongoing heritage
initiative. Tuscaloosa’s Parks and
Recreation Authority (PARA) agreed with FHN for placement of the
behind the Northport Heritage Museum. This
location will work well with the FHN
allowing students to tour the Museum and schoolhouse together.
Removal and Restoration
FHN began planning removal and
restoration once a location was determined. Evans
Fitts of Fitts Architects was called on to
complete plans for the
new foundation. The City of Northport
agreed to pour the foundation
Hendrix Housemovers was secured to
move the structure, removing the fireplace and preparing the
that it would stand the move from the North River Historic Area to
Northport. The move took twenty
minutes, along the New Watermelon Road and down Rice Mine Road. Hendrix also moved the Museum to its current
location almost eight years ago.
Once in place, a new roof and
shingles were quickly installed. New
piers and fireplace were installed, matching almost exactly how the
looked from the 1800’s. Painting was
completed outside and the new tongue & groove ceiling was finished
inside. FHN will begin looking for
school desks and chairs similar to ones used in the 1800’s in order to
the restoration process.
Restoration was followed using
photographs from the Library of Congress that were made in the 1930’s.
Special thank you to the following:
A sizable donation was made in
memory of Richard Price Holman, by his family, to fund the removal and
restoration of the roofing, carpentry work, chimney replacement,
FHN applied to receive funding from
the Cecile C. Craig Testamentary Trust that was
specifically for physical relocation.
Hayse Boyd M.D. and Mr. & Mrs. James L. Booth Jr. were
benefactors to the project.
Evans Fitts (Fitts Architects) for architectural plans.
The City of Northport for installation of the Schoolhouse
walkway and foundation.
County Parks and Recreation Authority (PARA) for placement in the park.
of Historic Northport and the City of Northport held the dedication
ceremony on November 4, 2007.
City Council President Steve Webb was master of ceremony. Dr.
Neil Hyche gave the dedication address. Lib Holman Thomson was
recognized for the gift to the Umbria Schoolhouse, for her love of
Northport, and her life-long support of the community.
The Umbria Schoolhouse Walkway brick paver program will provide support
for the educational efforts and upkeep of the heritage structure.
Honor your ancestors, family members, educators, and all of your
special friends with an engraved brick on the Schoolhouse Walkway.
Brick Paver Donation Form Click Here
American Memory Project