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Woman restoring historic Volunteer School in Stokes County

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STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- In the shadow of Sauratown Mountain you'll find a little wood-frame building once known as the Volunteer School.

“We had four grades; first, second, third and fourth grades,” recalls former student R.J. Bennett. “I went to school here in 1935 and 1936 and then they closed it down."

Most people in the community thought the 1900 building had been torn down decades ago.

“My mom and her brothers and sisters lived about a mile over the hill there and they walked to school over here,” said Avolene Badgett, who, like most people in the community, thought the old building had been torn down decades ago. But it was actually just moved to make way for a home. “It used to sit up where the house is.”

Last year the home and property came up for auction in an estate sale and Badgett came out of curiosity.

“I had no intention of buying a piece of property,” she said. “But when they put the house up for sale at noon it was like something got a hold of me.”

Badgett says something told her to buy the home and she did. The next day the real estate agent called to let her know she had bought a piece of history.

“He said, 'Do you know you bought a piece of history?'” she recalled. “I told him the house is not history and he said, ‘No, but the school behind the house is.'”

Unbeknownst to Badgett, the old Volunteer Schoolhouse was still standing behind the home, the very school building her mother attended.

“I knew then why I bought the house,” said Badgett, who is working to restore the schoolhouse and turn it into a museum. She’s currently working to find authentic period desks and plans to move the school closer to its original location in the coming weeks.

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