INDUSTRY – The Industry Historical Society has a new home, which represents a quintessential slice of the town’s history.

Donated by Robert C. Pratt, an Industry summer resident from Augusta, Mont., the Goodridge Corner School at the corner of Industry and West Mills roads will now be the historical society’s home.

Although the dilapidated red schoolhouse doesn’t look like much now, society president Bob Burton is confident that the building will be restored to its old self by the town’s bicentennial celebration this summer.

“It is rough and it certainly needs work,” said Burton as he gestured enthusiastically toward the chipped red paint and grimy windowpanes. “It’s gonna look like a million bucks when we are done with it. It’s going to look like a real old schoolhouse should.”

Burton remembers when he entered the one-room schoolhouse in 1944 as a 5-year-old student. Not much has changed since then, and he is fine with that.

Over the years, the structure has been used by Pratt as a hunting camp, as evident from the impressive deer head that hangs over the kitchen sink and the collection of beer steins on the counter.

Inside, it’s a little bit dusty, but the tin ceiling is still intact, the potbellied stove still pumps out heat and in the corner of the garage, a pile of rickety school desks and yellowed schoolbooks are the only remaining clues that young minds were once molded here.

Lots of work ahead

“I could have sat in that desk, who knows?” Burton said, sidestepping a hole in the floor. “We’ve really got our work cut out for us.”

Burton, and his wife, Helen Foster, the curator and secretary for the society, think the schoolhouse is the most fitting place in town for a historical museum and meetinghouse for the group’s functions. “A lot of locals have sentimental attachment to this place because they went to school here,” Foster said. “It’s gonna look real nice when we fix it all up. This is a great way to preserve a wonderful part of Industry’s past.”

The first order of business will be to scrape and repaint the outside. With volunteer labor, Burton said that should cost $300. The inside will be a little trickier, he said, estimating that project could cost close to $20,000.

Once the restoration is complete, Burton will move the society’s collection, including photographs, books, journals and artifacts, into the building. The museum is expected to be open once-a-week in the summer, and by appointment.

Storage woes

Burton and Foster are relieved that the collection will finally have a home. “A lot of stuff has already been donated,” Burton said. “It’s all being stored at our house. Pretty soon, I am going to have to sleep in the doghouse.”

In addition to getting the schoolhouse open for business, Burton and Foster are planning to honor the town with a fabulous 200th birthday bash. The two, with extensive volunteer help, are planning a 100-page picture book of old Industry history, including sections devoted to veterans, spirits/ghosts, mills and old schoolhouses, like the one at Goodridge Corner. The books will be sold at the celebration on July 4 and 5, and are dedicated to the town’s legal expert Ernie Hilton of Starks and to Pratt, for his generous donation.

“You’re gonna be surprised when you see this place in a couple of months,” Burton said. “It’s going to be restored to its original glory, and standing tall, just like it should be.”

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