With generous donations to date, the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation has been able to complete rock-work repairs and will have windows installed by the end of the month.
The work brings the building’s restoration to the halfway mark in its completion, said construction manager, Wayne Anderson, president of DWA Construction.
From here on out, progress on the restoration will be less visible, but just as vital to opening the doors to the public.
“We’ve raised just over $4 million and all of it, except ongoing operating costs such as insurance, has been put into the building,” said Helen Smith, board member. “Unfortunately, the longer this takes, the more it costs.” When the building was originally moved in 2003, cost estimates to restore the building for use were at $4 million. Today, those costs have doubled.
But progress on the building has reached a milestone, and it is hoped the community will recognize the role the building is poised to play in serving the community upon its completion.
“We receive several requests a year to use the building as it is,” said board chairman, Saundra Hubbard. Insurance policies prevent the use of the building until it is completed, otherwise, it would be open to the public.
With the outside of the building completed, funding will be turned to insulation, heating/AC systems, plumbing, electrical wiring, and finish work.
Funding for those phases has already begun to come in with a generous $100,000 grant from the Larry H. Miller Family Foundation, and promise of the same amount from another foundation.
The Oneida Stake Academy building will be open for public use as a community cultural center when it is completed. Family and class reunions, weddings, receptions, conferences, art shows and concerts will find the perfect venue within its walls, said Hubbard.
Historically rich events, such as pageants, legacy art classes and guest speakers hosted there will enrich the community. The building itself stands as a singular monument to the pioneer heritage that built the community. Local history will be celebrated within its walls.
“These uses will help to keep the building available for the public to enjoy,” said Hubbard.
Most people within Franklin County have a personal family connection to the Oneida Stake Academy, as it was used for educational purposes for over a century. It was built at a time when community members recognized that by working together, they could achieve grand ends.
“The entire building was built through volunteer donations and skills. People gave what they could and this grand building commemorates that spirit of cooperation,” said Hubbard. “The secret is that cooperation continues to yield grand results.”
To help alumni participate in that legacy, a class challenge has been launched to raise funds to complete the building’s restoration. Preston High School conducted classed within the building from 1922 to 2002.
The class which donates the most ($100,000 minimum) may hold their remaining class reunions for free in the building. All other classes will be able to hold one reunion at the OSA building for free for each $10,000 raised. Donations of $250 or more have naming rights.
“As PHS alumni recognized the strength they have as they work together, we are confident the OSA will be available for use sooner than later,” said Hubbard.
At present, the class of 1974 is ahead with donations totaling $833. The class of ‘1965 is close behind with $500. To participate, donations can be made at https://www.mightycause.com/event/Osafundraiser or contact a board member.
Currently serving on the OSAF are Saundra Hubbard, Paul Judd, Dan Oswald, Elliott Larsen, Alexis Beckstead, Helen Smith, Cindy Harris and Necia Seamons.