80-year-old school building transformed into community center through help of community

Martinstown School and Community Building, Martinstown, Mo. (KTVO)

For a school dating back to 1936, the stories of the students from inside their walls could fill pages and pages of books.

The place where one Heartland couple’s story began, is getting its ending re-written, thanks to the help of the community.

For their entire lives, Linda and Darl Davis have been in schools.

Starting first at the rural school in Martinstown, built in 1936, where they were classmates.

“We grew up together in this area, and he was a year ahead of me in school, and we did a lot of bickering," Linda said with a laugh. "But as we grew older we got attracted to each other and so we ended up getting married.”

They’ve stayed close to their hometown, going to college in Kirksville…and teaching in schools around area.

“Northeast Missouri State, which is now Truman, is where we got our teaching degrees, from there we went to Memphis, Missouri, then to La Plata, then we ended up back home in Putnam County,” Linda said.

Today, the Davis’s are still at school, now, in Martinstown. This time, not as students, but instead, as preservationists.

“It’s kind of exciting to come back to the community and the school where we started,” Darl said.

“My generation decided we needed to do something, it needed a new roof, it needed new windows and we wanted to get new heat and air conditioning,” Linda said. “So 2014 is when we formed a corporation and there were a group of us that decided we need to start fundraising and incorporate.”

“We started out fixing the roof, putting a new roof on, we put in new windows and a new front door and we moved the kitchen area over the basement part, put in new kitchen and bathroom facilities, put in a new furnace and air conditioner and kind of restored and remodeled the old outhouses for the outside,” Darl said.

A building for the entire community, being renovated, with the help of those who use it.

“I always get so many comments how pleased they are that somebody took the initiative, and it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just my husband, we had a lot of community help and the board has worked tirelessly, we have a six man board that has just worked tirelessly to carry out all the fundraisers,” Linda explained. “A lot of sweat equity went into this."

“One of the areas of improvement was the playground. Logan Gatlin was working on becoming an Eagle Scout, which he successfully completed, and he restored the merry-go-round and put in a new playground area and it’s used extensively when we have activities, and the church kids, as soon as church is out they’ll run down to the playground so we’re excited about the playground for the community also,” Darl said.

A place with a storied history, but its future, has yet to be written.

“This is my passion, this building is my passion,” said Linda. “I just couldn’t bear to see it deteriorate and I have such fond memories, and I just want it to be here for lots of more generations.”

All the renovations are expensive, so the organization puts on a lot of fundraisers.

There’s a big one coming up soon, a music festival and vendor fair, on Saturday, August 5, at the Martinstown School and Community Building.

A vendor fair begins at 5 p.m., food concessions at 5:30 p.m., and live music at 6 p.m.

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