ALL IN FOR THE ROCK: $6,000 raised to save the Rock Building (PHOTOS)

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 14, 2014


The 75th Anniversary Celebration of the dedication of the Rock Building Sunday in downtown Troy was “America at its best.”

State Rep. Alan Boothe said the grassroots effort to save the Rock Building is what America is all about – communities coming together for a common cause.

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“We are here together today for a common cause,” Boothe said. “That cause is this Grand Ol’ Lady, the Rock Building.”

Boothe said the historic Rock Building is too important to Pike County to let rotten boards and the lack of money deter the restoration efforts. He pledged his efforts to the project.

David Helms, Celebration chair, said the purpose of the day’s Celebration was two-fold.

“First, we are to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the Rock Building to the farm families of Pike County,” he said. “Then, we are dedicating our efforts to preserve this history structure. The spirit of the people of Pike County built the Rock Building and the spirit of the people of Pike County will preserve it.”

Cheers of support and applause erupted from the crowd in a strong show of support of the efforts to preserve a piece of Pike County’s history.

Helms said making the Pike County Commission aware that the people of Pike County are committed to the restoration of the Rock Building is much more important than the seed money that is donated to its preservation.

Steve Flowers, political analyst, presented a proclamation from Pike County’s governing officials to Homer Wright, chair of the Pike County Commission, which owns the Rock Building. The proclamation was issued in support of the efforts to preserve the Rock Building.

Flowers said the Rock Building was constructed during a traumatic era in the country’s history.

“But no matter where you go, all across the country and in cities like Chicago and New York, you will find that the most magnificent buildings and homes were constructed during the Great Depression,” Flowers said. “Artisans were out of work and were given the chance to work on Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects like the Rock Building.”

Flowers said the WPA employed as many people as possible for projects, including the Rock Building that would have long-term benefits for unemployed people and their communities.

The 11,000-square-foot Rock Building was constructed with field rocks that were contributed by people from every corner of Pike County.

“The Rock Building became the heart and hub of Pike County,” Flowers said.

The Rock Building contained the Pike County Health Department, the Pike County Board of Education, the Pike County Extension Office and the Veterans Affairs Office.

“The Alabama Historical Commission has declared the Rock Building one of the top historic representatives in Pike County,” Flowers said. “But this beloved building stands abandoned. Its memory must be honored and it must be preserved.”

When the Rock Building was dedicated 75 years ago, more than 3,000 people attended the gala celebration.

Helms said hopes were that the “Save a Rock” campaign the kicked off the fundraising efforts to preserve the Rock would net $3,000 in tribute to those who attended the dedication ceremony.

On Sunday, Helms announced that more than $6,000 had been donated that would be the seed money for the fundraising efforts.

Although the crowd on the hot, sultry July Sunday afternoon was far short of 3,000, the enthusiasm was at a peak and contagious and infectious.

Each person in attendance had a story to tell about the Rock Building.

Sweetie Mae Siler told of how, at age 35, she got her birth certificate at the Rock Building.

“That was the first time I had proof of who I am,” she said with a smile. “The Rock Building gave me that.”

Coy Danner’s dad P.L. “Perry” Danner was master mason on the Rock Building and the money he made sustained his family during the Great Depression. Danner was there to honor his dad and all of those who had a hand in the construction of the Pike Activities Building.

Sunday was a special day for Dale Harden. It would have been his late dad, Alfred’s 88th birthday.

“My dad was 13 years old when the Rock Building was built,” Harden said. “He went to Enon School and the children collected rocks and my dad also picked rocks up on their land to donate to the construction project. He was a part of this.”

Tammy Powell, former Pike County Extension coordinator, said the Rock Building was more than stones and mortar.

“It housed an awful lot of relationships – adults and children,” she said. “We must not let those relationship go by the wayside.”

The Rock Building was the site of many 4-H Club events and Powell challenged each 4-H’er, past and present, to do their part in donating $10 to save a rock and preserve the Rock Building, one rock at time, just as it was built one rock at a time.

Helms said the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Rock Building on Sunday was the beginning of the community-wide efforts to preserve a piece of Pike County history that is unique in many ways but mainly because it was built by the people and for the people. The “Grand Ol’ Lady” should forever stand in tribute to those who built it and as testimony to those who would refused to let it crumble.