Historic Thorsby structure being renovated

Published 3:46 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

By Scott Mims

The old lunchroom building that sits behind the former Thorsby Elementary School doesn’t look too impressive now, but the town’s Historic Preservation Committee wants to make the ’30s-era structure useful again.

The organization raised about $8,000 from donations and the sale of historic booklets to fund the building’s renovation in time for the Swedish Fest.

“This is a baby step in renovating the whole facility,” said committee chairwoman Tracia Bussey. “We’re doing the work ourselves.”

The structure was first built for additional classroom space and was later used as a lunchroom, according to Bussey. But time and neglect have aged the building, and vandals have busted out virtually every window pane, damaging the wooden frames in the process.

“You wouldn’t believe how many rocks we picked up on the inside of that building,” Bussey said.

Ed Angel of Clanton, who has ties to Thorsby, is volunteering his time to restore the windows back to their original beauty. Bussey said it would have otherwise cost thousands of dollars to fix the windows.

The committee’s goal is to turn the building into a community recreation center. Once complete, it will sport a small kitchen, bathroom and indoor meeting space.

A reception has been planned for Oct. 15 in conjunction with the Swedish Fest, to recognize descendants of Thorsby’s original founders and settlers. These include the families of founders T.T. Thorson and J.F. Peterson, among others.

Committee members hope the old lunchroom can serve as the backdrop for this event.

“Anyone is welcome to come to the reception if they would like to meet and greet the founders,” Bussey said.

More big plans are in store for this year’s Swedish Fest, which will fall in line with the Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns celebration. A marker will be dedicated in the center of town to recognize the Scandinavian founders and settlers. Also, a flag court will be erected featuring the U.S. Flag and the flags of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Much more will be announced as the October event draws near. Meanwhile, anyone interested in donating to the restoration project may call Bussey at (205) 217-0978.

“Any donations will be appreciated,” Bussey said.