Open to the public, the free program will begin at 6 p.m. with refreshments in the rotunda of the courthouse — 115 W. Cherokee Ave., Cartersville — and a tour of the EVHS office, followed by a presentation in the building’s restored courtroom.
“The Stilesboro Academy is one of our historic treasures. ... From my perspective, Stilesboro Academy [is a representation that] our early settlers in this county were interested in education,” EVHS Co-president Dianne Tate said. “And that building shows that along with churches that was [among] the first buildings that were put up prior to the Civil War after the Indian removal. People started moving in here from North and South Carolina. What did they think of first? The churches and the schools. So ... [it defines] what this county is and what we care about.
“... This [program] is open to the public and we want people to come and honor the Stilesboro Improvement Club and to see just what has been done in our beautiful gold dome courthouse,” she said, referring to restoration work, such as removing carpet in the courthouse. “We know we’ve had films made [in the courtroom]. We know that other people recognize how good it is to have and they come here to do that kind of thing [but] sometimes I think we pass it every day and fail to realize in some counties courthouses aren’t restored and I think that’s really something to celebrate.”
Located at 14 Taff Road, eight miles west of Cartersville, Stilesboro Academy served as a school for children in the first through 12th grades from 1859 through the late 1930s. When the Bartow County School System wanted to close Stilesboro Academy, the club paid what the lumber was worth and in turn received the deed for the school in 1939. According to local legend, Union Gen. William T. Sherman spared the academy on his march to Atlanta due to the motto of West Point — his alma mater — being inscribed inside the structure.
Charged with maintaining Stilesboro Academy, the Stilesboro Improvement Club organizes several fundraisers throughout the year, the largest being the Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Along with recognizing the Stilesboro Improvement Club’s restoration efforts, the EVHS program also will feature Mark McDonald, president and CEO of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, who will discuss the academy’s recent inclusion to his organization’s Places in Peril program.
“We have an unending battle with a building that is expensive to maintain,” said Susiann Brock, member of the Stilesboro Improvement Club. “We have had a lot of damage inside because we have had a leaky roof for so long. We’ve had to slowly work our way up to get enough money to put a roof on. We’ve got the roof on now, [but] we’ve got to slowly continue to do things to repair the damage that was done. For one thing, we’ve got rotted window sills and the paint’s fallen off the ceiling where we’ve had leaks for so long. And some of the boards, they need putting back up but I don’t know if we can afford to do that right now or not.
“[The maintenance] will never end. [Being placed on Places in Peril], they have publicized our problems with our building,” she said about Georgia Trust. “So it’s gotten our name further out than just in the community. So we’re hopeful that we’ll get some help from other organizations ... [and] we’ll be able to have more involvement from people outside the community.”
For more information about EVHS and its offerings, visit www.evhsonline.org.