After four structures that were once home to the Richmond City Schools were razed in January for updates at the Telford YMCA, many African American residents of Madison County had a piece of history erased as well, leaving many upset of the old schools' demolition.
One of them is Richmond's Mayor, Robert Blythe, who attended the school himself when it served as Richmond Junior High. Blythe's mother, Vashti Bradford, graduated from Richmond City School in 1943 and served as the class' secretary.
At the time of the demolition work, Blythe said the construction to him was like, "trampling on his mother's grave."
But last Thursday, Blythe got a little piece of that building and his mother back after the Madison County Historical Society gifted Blythe with an old door from the school, refurbished as a table for his office in Richmond City Hall.
Before tearing down the buildings, contractor Ed Worley took Sharon Graves, the MCHS president, and other board members into the top floor of the school. They were able to take the door off its hinges.
After that, the historical society paid to have the doors stripped of their layers of paint, and Don Fourre helped create a base for the table using tier rails and lumber from Graves' tobacco barn in College Hill.
Graves said that at the presentation the mayor becoming "teary-eyed," and it was noted by Tom Black, former historical society president, that Blythe clearly appreciated the gesture for its significant personal value.
"He loved it, and I think that it brought back a lot of old memories for him since he did go to school there while it was in operation," Black said.
Another door was redone and will be used as a table in the new YMCA facility once it's remodeled. Graves said that a blue stage curtain with an "R" in the center was also salvaged from the school's demolition and will be framed and displayed in the renovated athletic center.
The historical society just presented Blythe with the door, and it plans to have a piece of glass that covers of the table. The society believes Blythe may put pictures from his and his mother's school days under the glass panels.
Telford YMCA Program Director Jacob Roberts said that with the demolition of the structure, the project will add 25 parking spots, a soccer field and more rooms for programs and classes.