Saving the rock

Published 10:07 pm Sunday, March 16, 2014

A grassroots effort is underway to help preserve the historic Rock Building in downtown Troy.

A grassroots effort is underway to help preserve the historic Rock Building in downtown Troy.

Sometimes you’ve got to get out of your La-Z-Boy and get going.

And, Sherry Helms is up and going.

This time, she is focused on “doing something about the Rock Building.”

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“The Rock Building is part of our history and, if we don’t get out of our La-Z-Boys and do something, the building is going to be so far gone that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men … you know what I mean,” Helms said. “We can’t keep sitting around doing nothing. And, now is the time.”

Helms, a retired educator who works with a family business in downtown Troy, says she is passionate about preserving this piece of Pike County’s history. The building, located in the 100 block of East Church Street in downtown Troy, was built as a WPA project from 1938-39using native ironstone gathered from all over Pike County by local residents. It is considered to be representative of the community spirit of Pike County during the Depression era.

It was originally the Pike County activities building and housed both the Pike County Health Department and the Board of Education before being shuttered by the County Commission earlier this century.

The Pike County Commission is in charge of the Rock Building but it belongs to the people of Pike County, Helms said.

“The Rock Building belongs to all of us and it’s time that we step up and let the Pike County Commissioners know that we are willing to do what has to be done to preserve this historic building,” she said. “There’s probably not a single person who has roots in Pike County that didn’t have someone in their family that gathered and stacked field rocks by the side of the road for the county to pick up to build this grand old building.

Every community in Pike County has an investment in the Rock Building.

“We owe it to our grandpas and great-grandpas and to ourselves to save the Rock Building, whatever it takes,” Helms said.

Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders said the Pike County Commission acknowledges the historical significance of the Rock Building but also must consider the financial aspect of renovation.

“The most immediate need is the roof,” Sanders said. “The Commission has made some repairs to the roof but there is a good bit of water damage that has come through both floors. We’re not sure if the water is coming just from the roof or is seeping in from the walls.”

Sanders said interest and support from the community would be appreciated.

“It’s been said that the longest journey begins with one step,” he said. “Maybe public support will be that first step.”

The building of the Rock Building was a grassroots effort and Helms said the preservation of the building should also be a grassroots effort.

“We can do this,” she said. “By every town and every community pulling together, we can raise the money to raise the roof, which is job one of the preservation project. Then, we must continue working to raise the money to restore the Rock Building and bring it back to its former prominence in Pike County.”

Helms tested the waters with a Facebook page this week and, as of Friday noon, already had 346 “likes” and counting.

“There’s a lot of interest in the preservation of the Rock Building,” she said. “I honestly believe when we get started that this is going to be a tremendous grassroots effort and it will be successful.

“I believe that people of all ages, from children to senior citizens, and from all walks of life – the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker – are going to be actively involved. I believe that people care about our historic buildings and don’t want to see them come tumbling down.”

The first step in bringing the people and communities of Pike County together in support of the preservation of the Rock Building is to “bring the people together.”

“It’s time to take that first step,” Helms said. “Within the next couple of weeks, there will be a meeting to find out where our support is. Every community and every organization that wants to be involved in saving the Rock Building will asked to send a representative or two to the meeting and we’ll go from there.”

The date and time of the “seeding of the Rock Building grassroots” will be announced.

“Until them, everyone who supports the effort to save the Rock Building is encouraged to voice their support by ‘liking’ THE ROCK BUILDING –DOWNTOWN TROY on Facebook,” she said.