Back in May 1995, when this column was known as “The Standpipe,” one of my favorite ventures out of the office was the day I met Phyllis Wardwell and her daughter-in-law, Helen Wardwell, at the Little Yellow Schoolhouse at Duck Cove on Route 46 in Bucksport.
The purpose of the trip was to get a look inside and a feel for that wonderful old building and meet members of the Duck Cove Community Club who maintain it.
At the time, the club was preparing to celebrate the school’s centennial, and the group was working as hard then as they are today to continue to care for this special building that, as I explained, “has been lovingly preserved since 1944, when it stopped being a school.”
Inside and out, the building remains pretty much as it was the day it closed.
But now, the building is in dire need of support, literally, in the form of putting sills underneath to shore it up, and having it shingled to preserve it from the elements.
Which brings us to the current request for your help from members of the DCCC, especially Phyllis and Helen, whose ties to this precious piece of Bucksport history are so long and strong.
Phyllis, who is the youngest-sounding 90-year-old you can imagine and who types beautifully, as her most recent letter to me attests, descends from one of the original families associated with the school.
Her great-great-grandfather, Rubin Page, helped build the school in 1895.
He also taught there, as did her mother, and Phyllis is a former student of the Little Yellow Schoolhouse.
In continual use as a community facility since it closed as a school, members of DCCC have done all they can to raise funds to preserve the building and recently applied for but were denied two grants to obtain at least $37,000 that contractors have estimated it will take to put in new sills and replace shingles.
“Because it’s on the National Register,” Phyllis told me, “we can’t put in a cement foundation. We have to do wooden sills.”
And that work doesn’t come cheaply.
So Phyllis, Helen and all the other faithful DCCC members keep plugging along with small fundraisers they hope will get them by and add to the treasury to make sure the building doesn’t slowly slip away from them.
The BCCC is preparing for its annual Yard and Bake Sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the school, and they are seeking your donations to help make this simple fundraiser a success.
Rain or shine, the organizers plan to offer “good food, good stuff, a 50-50 raffle, coffee and muffins,” Phyllis wrote, and if you need your donations picked up, that gladly will be arranged.
“The years have taken their toll,” Phyllis wrote of the historic building, “and members, getting older, are finding it harder to keep up with the needed and necessary repairs.”
And with their grant applications not meeting with success, BCCC members “must find other means to raise money for these much-needed repairs. Help is needed!” she added.
Now that we have the ability to reach out far and wide, Phyllis and the DCCC membership know anything is possible, and as Phyllis said, “If everyone just sent a dollar, it would help.”
Of course, I had to suggest that if 1,000 people sent $37 each that would be very nice, and maybe the building could be razed and the sills replaced.
Phyllis said all donations to help preserve the Little Yellow Schoolhouse can be made out to Duck Cove Community Club and mailed to treasurer Peter Fairbanks, P.O. Box 158, Bucksport 04416. For donation or other information, you are welcome to call the treasurer at 469-7531.
If you want information about donating to the sale, call 469-4802 or 469-2121.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.