“I was elated to find out the new school built in the marker from the old Smyrna Elementary School as a permanent part of the (new) school,” said Lillie Wood. She is married to Smyrna resident and native Pete Wood who attended Smyrna Elementary School and Smyrna High School.
The old Smyrna Elementary and Smyrna High School were located on property adjacent to First Baptist Church of Smyrna at 1275 Church St. According to Director of the Smyrna Museum Harold Smith, Smyrna High School closed at the end of the 1950-51 school year. The old Smyrna Elementary used the high school building to enlarge its capacity until it closed in the 1970s.
In 1974, the church purchased the school property from the Board of Education. The church continues to use the remodeled high school building as its West Annex. In 1976, the church voted to demolish the elementary school to convert part of the property for sports activities and a Scout hut for the church-sponsored Boy Scout Troop.
Before demolition, the Building Superintendent of First Baptist Church of Smyrna contacted Wood about taking the marble marker displayed outside the entrance of the elementary school. Pete and Lillie placed the marker in their front yard where it stayed for the next 32 years. Five years ago, the Woods had the marker moved to the Smyrna Museum.
“It’s the only part of the (old) Smyrna Elementary School that’s left. Everything else was destroyed. Everything else is gone,” Smith said.
“Schools and churches are the most things that people come into the museum to see and talk about. People are sentimental over our history. It’s a part of our lives. So much of it has been wiped out. I think it’s important to preserve our culture, the American culture,” he said.
A year before the opening of the new school, Area 2 Assistant Superintendent Dale Gaddis approached Smith about securing photos, documents, memorabilia and artifacts from the old Smyrna Elementary School for exhibiting in the new building. Smith offered the marble marker from the original building.
“That would assure its survival for many years to come,” Smith said.
It took seven men to move the marker that was incorporated into the brick wall along with a new bronze marker placed near the main entrance of the new school.
(The marker) greeted me outside the carport for all those years. It became a conversation piece all those years. It became a family member. I didn’t realize it until that day the school dedicated my attachment to it,” Lillie said.
“I was overjoyed that the marker now has a home for many years to come,” Lillie said.
To learn more about the school, visit cobbk12.org/Smyrna.