Moving mountains: Hyder Mountain restoration in the works
Angie Tribble is battling against the odds when it comes to preserving a schoolhouse that is more than 100-years-old.
While it would be easier to renew the building and make a profit, Tribble is investing her time and between $50,000-$60,000 to maintain the building’s historic charm.
“I saw the potential and could feel the history of the place when I walked in there,” Tribble said. “Even though the place was, and is, still a mess, I feel at home on Hyder Mountain.”
Tribble, who currently resides in Florida, purchased the building for $18,000. She and her family travel to Clyde on occasion to work on repairs.
“We have accomplished a lot,” Tribble said. “We are only able to come two or three times a year so it’s slow going. Plus, we have to work on it as we get the money. It is truly turning out to be my ‘money pit.’ I’m wishing I had a magic wand to wave over the place and poof, it's done.”
Contractor John Alcorn has been working with Tribble to restore the house for months.
“Most of the work has been cleaning,” Alcorn said, adding that he had installed rod supports underneath the floor. “We’re going to try to have the main school room be like the original space it was — the main thing is to try and preserve as much as possible of the original material.”
Tribble said her goal was to keep the building in its original state as much as possible. Though she has records of the log house dating back to 1888, she has yet to find an original photo of the school to use as a reference.
“I felt it would be interesting to delve into the history of the school,” Tribble said when asked why she wanted to preserve the building. “I didn't realize how hard it would be to find out the history of the place. I hate to see historic buildings torn down.”
While it might take a while to complete the building, Tribble has big plans for it.
“It would be used as our vacation home,” Tribble said. “But I am willing to open it up to the public for special occasions or host some type of fundraiser. I’m a strong believer in paying it forward.”
College students to help
Tribble also has offered the use of the building to Haywood Community College as a learning lab for its construction students.
“It would be a wonderful opportunity for students to work on a 100-year-old building and see the construction that went into an old place,” Tribble said.
John Mark Roberts, a construction instructor at HCC, said he planned to have his students work on the building in the future.
“I wouldn't say its an excellent project for the students, but it’s definitely something they need to experience,” Roberts said. “They need to work with a client — it teaches them that every client is different. The biggest benefit to students is to say ‘OK, solve this problem: here’s this structure, what does it need? What are the challenges in fixing the roof or fixing the foundation? It’s the same construction questions run into in any remodel.”
Though he cited the school's budget as a possible obstacle, Roberts said Hyder Mountain was a good opportunity for his students to learn about
“Whatever I do with my students, I've got to make sure it's not busywork,” Roberts said. “I’ve got to keep it in the curriculum. We can do anything structural, masonry, framing, roofing — as long as it hits the spots in the curriculum.”
Alcorn said HCC would be able to gain valuable experience at Hyder Mountain.
“With budget cuts the way they are now, schools don’t have money for students to get real experience,” Alcorn said. “Well, you can’t get anything more real than this. This way they can go and work on it and the school doesn’t have to get the expenses. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Tribble is passionate about restoring the school in its original state, but has struggled with the design since she can’t find an original photo. She said she hopes a long-time resident may be able to provide a photo of the school.
Tribble is focused on preserving the house to look like the schoolhouse that was in operation in 1917.
“The outside is the main part that I hope will look like it did in 1917,” Tribble said. “We are trying to save the original wainscoating on the walls and ceilings. We may not be able to save the wainscoating on the walls due to the electricity having to be re-done. The original hardwood floors will be sanded and varnished. Anything that is original we are trying to save.”
Tribble said the North Carolina Historical Preservation Office had deemed the schoolhouse ineligible for a historical marker since its original windows had been replaced and would be difficult to restore.
Alcorn and his crew recently removed a rotten ‘mudroom’ from the back of the house. He said he currently was planning to replace rotten portions of the building and begin the installation of a metal roof.
“The whole total project probably seems overwhelming,” Alcorn said. “For me, it’s a fun thing to do. It takes time and patience but it’s better than building a brand new house. You’re actually working on something that was previously built, and you’re preserving it so you’re not losing a building that was put together.”
If HCC students are able to pitch in and a photo of the school turns up, Alcorn said the school could be restored in about a year and a half.
Tribble encourages anyone with information or an old photo of Hyder Mountain to call her at 386-689-2407.