CRAFTSBURY – There is no distance between where history ends and where it begins. Such was the case at Craftsbury Academy while the hardwood floor of the gymnasium was being auctioned off by part and parcel.
The floor was taped off in different sizes. The center of the floor had been removed so that a person could buy an autographed piece as well as some of the seating from the bleachers.
But it wasn’t just about bricks and mortar, or boards and nails. People wanted to take with them a part of what they left behind. Every inch of the place held a memory and everyone had a story to tell.
Phil Lovely, who was a counselor at the school for several years, bought a spot near the bleachers. “It was during an Alumni Basketball Game that my wife Belinda Brown, Class of 1971, and Eve Moffatt wrestled to the floor, one trying to get the ball and the other holding onto it.”
Alumni from various graduating classes were there, such as Charlie Smith, class of 1937, and a World War II Veteran. The Class of 2011 was the last class to graduate in the gymnasium.
The building was built in 1868, the gymnasium was built in 1946, and the first basketball game was in January 1947. It was also dedicated as a memorial to World War II Veterans.
The gymnasium’s demise started almost as soon as the last nail was hammered in.
“Its design was its downfall," said Steve Moffatt, school board member, and Everett Demeritt.
The gymnasium was officially condemned in 1986.
Despite the building’s state of disrepair, it didn’t stop memories from being made or basketball games from being played, except when there was more than four inches of snow on the roof or winds were more than 30 miles per hour. Then there would be ice on the floor. This caused an occasional wipe out and a referee or two would end up sprawled out on the floor.
“The new gymnasium will be state of the art,” said school board member Harry Miller. He also said that it will be the most energy efficient one in the state. While most are R 40 for ceilings, and R 24 for walls, this one will be R 85 for ceiling and R 45 for walls.
But the new $13-million gymnasium didn’t come easily. After being defeated five times in the last dozen years, it was finally time for people to join together for the common good and a vote passed to support the reconstruction in April 2011.
Craftsbury Academy has 155 students K-12. The new gym will be twice the size it is now at 9,066 square feet with a seating capacity of 150 spectators and a new stage. This will make it a regulation-sized gym, according to Moffatt. The hope is to attract statewide playoffs and lure in more tuition paying students.
With 900 Craftsbury residents, there are tight connections with the school and each other. Thirty-eight local people contributed 12,000 feet of material needed to complete the gym. Everett Demeritt, a C.A. graduate and local businessman, was instrumental in acquiring the needed lumber.
Randi Calderwood bought the first piece auctioned off. He got 20 x 25 corner for $450. “It’s great wood. I would have easily paid $500 for it. You can’t get wood like this at that price. We’re going to redo our bedroom.”
Calderwood is a graduate and his mother Fielda taught math there for many years. Both live locally. And on it went into the fresh March evening.