‘Save the Rock’ efforts continue

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The “Save the Rock Building” steering committee met Monday night to discuss upcoming events for the purpose of raising funds for the restoration of the historic building and also greater awareness of the importance of “the Rock” to the people of Pike County and all Alabama.

David Helms, committee chair, said “Save the Rock” donations continue to come in and, each donor’s name is given a place of prominence on a “rock” in the window of the Pike Activities Building, commonly called the Rock Building, in downtown Troy.

“When we first approached the Pike County Commissioners about the restoration of the Rock Building, they wanted to know how much interest there was in saving the building,” Helms said. “On July 13, that question was answered, with the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Dedication of the Rock Building.”

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Helms said 574 people have donated $11,775 to the project.

“And, we’re just beginning to raise the funds that are needed to restore the Rock Building for use by all the people of Pike County,” he said. “We’ll continue to have fundraisers and seek private and funding. The interest is there and it will happen.”

Several fundraising ideas were tossed around and plans to put those ideas into motion were discussed.

“We’ve got some great ideas for fundraisers but right now it’s important for people to know that we’re on track and moving ahead,” Helms said. “The Rock Building is worth saving, whatever it takes.”

Don Campbell, a retired cattleman and Air Force pilot, agreed.

“In post offices around the country, there are Depression era murals that depict what I refer to as ‘heroic’ angular men clad in bib overalls wielding large hammers and other implements, women in work-a-day clothing, factories billowing smoke, assembly lines rolling out American’s industrial strength and fields and farms producing the nation’s food and fiber. These are the images of my youth.”

Campbell said, when he was old enough to join the workforce, part of his experience was as a stonemason.

“A stonemason is different from a brick mason in that a brick mason deals, primarily, with a uniform object,” he said. “Good brick masons are amazing in their speed and dexterity. Brundidge and Troy have been blessed with some outstanding examples of brick masonry with Troy’s old post office and Brundidge’s We Piddle Around Theater, a WPA project.”

Campbell said a stonemason works with a different object. In the building of the Rock Building, the objects were heavy rocks and rocks that were not of uniform size

“For a project the size of the Rock Building, I can only imagine the workforce involved,” he said. “The rocks were collected from fields all across Pike County and transported to the construction site where engineering, plans, supervision, foremen and labor came together day after day.

Each day’s work required coordination, unity of purpose, manpower with muscle, framing, mixing ‘mud,’ scaffolding, lifting rocks and cement to the masons, then in turn setting rock.

“For every rock a mason sets, he will usually pick up three to five others before he finds a ‘fit,’” Campbell said. “Then he moves down the wall, again and again, selecting yet another fit.”

Campbell said that’s the way the Rock Building was constructed, one rock at a time.

“I can imagine, that the young fellows, who were employed to mix and carry and do all the grunt work, wondered why they were doing it,” he said. “Then, as the work progressed, they grew into it and developed a sense of pride and ownership and self-worth when the project was finished in 1939.”

Campbell said that, perhaps, many of the men who worked on the Rock Building answered Uncle Sam’s call and went off to fight a war in a distant land.

“In my mind, the Rock Building represents the murals that portray the strength, energy, determination and ambition, the greatness of America and the gift of those qualities to Pike County,” Campbell said. ‘For these and a host of other reasons, it is my hope and prayer that we have the will and vision to save the Rock.”