Church members launch campaign to repair historic schoolhouse
Mary Beth Sallee
Hart Co. News-Herald
If you’ve ever traveled east along Rube Smith Road in Canmer, there’s a good chance you’ve reached Halltown Road. Sitting upon the corner where both roads meet is a red building known as the Halltown Colored School, located adjacent to Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church.
According to church history information written in 2019 by Mary Mills-Turner, “The school was used to educate the blacks in the Halltown community. It was a one room schoolhouse. There was one teacher and approximately 30-40 children within the grade ranges of 1st to 8th grades.”
“When the county moved the school to Munfordville, the county allowed the church to have the school,” Mills-Turner continued. “The church did not use the building but for homecomings, vacation bible school, and an alternate place to worship when the church was under construction. Now the building has been renovated and is being preserved, because of its historical significance to the community, through the efforts of Rev. Douglas Barbour. In later years (when) we went to school at Carter Dowling in Munfordville, the children were often identified by the teachers by the community in which they lived. We were referred to as ‘the Halltown kids.’”
During the 1960s with the Civil Rights Movement was progressing, nationwide tension between white people and people of color was high, and violence was on the rise. In Kentucky, the tensions were no different.
According to Mills-Turner, “In May 1968, Louisville’s West End erupted in protest. The National Guard was called in to control the violence. In August 1968, Zion Baptist and a Newburg Community Center were bombed.”
This same hostility and violence came to Hart County. On the night of Saturday, September 28, 1968, Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church was bombed. Although the structure of the church was not damaged, the inside was in shambles.
“The church was insured and was restored in a timely manner. By the grace of God worship services resumed in the building in October 1968,” Mills-Turner wrote. “In the meantime, worship was held in the old school house…The church did not protest after the incident, but resolved to move forward and continue the work of the Lord. They continued to have service in the schoolhouse until the sanctuary was completed.”
In 2009, the Halltown Colored School building was restored, and a dedication was held on June 28, 2009. Since that time, the building has been preserved and used in various capacities.
However, earlier this year, the Halltown Colored School sustained damage from storms that swept through the area. The cost to repair the historic schoolhouse is estimated at $8,000 to $10,000.
In an effort to repair the building and maintain upkeep, members of Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church is spearheading a campaign to restore the building and preserve its history.
“We are appealing to all to assist in this effort and contribute any amount that God lays on your heart and to pray that God will make this campaign a success,” wrote Reverend Horace Graham, Pastor of Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church. “We are targeting to complete the repairs as soon as funds are available.”
Anyone who would like to help with the repair efforts of the Halltown Colored School can make checks payable to Mt. Gilboa Baptist Church. Donations can be mailed to Mrs. Shirley Thompson, 2185 Rube Smith Road, Canmer, KY 42722.