Leon County to Consider Another Option for Lake Hall Schoolhouse Preservation

Leon County to Consider Another Option for Lake Hall Schoolhouse Preservation

In an effort to preserve the historical Lake Hall Schoolhouse, Leon County Commissioners voted unanimously to bring back an item for the board’s consideration during the next meeting. The item will propose a maximum proposal of a $20,000 lease for a property on Thomasville Road that borders the schoolhouse.

Additionally, Commissioner Nick Maddox also motioned for another item to be brought back during the first budget meeting in June to discuss adding $866,000 to next year’s budget to secure the surrounding properties and the schoolhouse.

The Lake Hall School House is a Reconstruction-era African American schoolhouse built circa 1870, located on privately-owned property near Thomasville Road, approximately three-quarters of a mile northeast of Maclay Gardens State Park.

During the last county commission meeting in April, commissioners asked staff to inquire about purchasing the properties. The total project cost, including the restoration of the schoolhouse and other required improvements, was estimated to be $3.3 million.

Over the last several years, the county has conducted many reviews exploring options to preserve the schoolhouse, including restoration, relocating the structure, and partnering with local groups to manage the schoolhouse.

Maddox stated he doesn’t like the idea of depleting the county’s contingency funds for the current fiscal year when hurricane season is upon us. Commissioners Jackson, Dozier, and Proctor agreed, and there was an extensive discussion between the commissioners and fiery words by public speakers.

Commissioner Brian Welch suggested that waiting to acquire the land may prove a mistake as it may not be for sale when they are ready to make the purchase.

As it stands now, three parcels would need to be purchased to secure the schoolhouse.

One property owner would prefer the schoolhouse be relocated. However, if that were not possible, he would sell that portion of the property for $50,000 and require the county to build a privacy fence along the purchased property line.

Another property owner, indicated that she is willing to sell the entire parcel of land for $350,000. Unfortunately, there is no recent appraisal report available for this parcel, and it appears the owner is asking for greater than the market value.

The last piece of land is a single-family residential property on Thomasville Road, currently listed for $425,000. This particular piece of land provides direct access to the schoolhouse and space to support needed infrastructure.

Based on the owners’ asking prices, the estimated cost to acquire the three properties discussed above would be approximately $866,000, roughly $291,000 higher than initially estimated.

The funds to proceed with the purchase would be available in October of this year if the board approves the funds to be budgeted for FY 2022-2023.

Maddox said, “at some point, we have to come to a resolution, there is no doubt that this board cares about preserving this property,” as there have been four meetings since December 2021, and now there will be a fifth and sixth scheduled.

12 Responses to "Leon County to Consider Another Option for Lake Hall Schoolhouse Preservation"

  1. I am one of the three landowners and would love to address some of these questions & concerns. Some are easily answered, some up in the air and others force conversations many seem unwilling to have. A few points:
    • I took my property off the market as part of the proposal to save the school. I haven’t changed the asking price. It has nothing to do with greed.
    • Thomasville Road provides the only public access. Access from Lake Hall Rd is a private drive.
    • The Lake Hall School isn’t Critical Race Theory, The 1619 Project, Gender Theory or other Grievance Studies being forced into our schools. It’s an opportunity for us who prefer Marxist free history to publicly distinguish the difference between reality and divisive narratives.
    • Why move it!? It sits where freed slaves built it, in their community near their graves, some dating to the early 1800s. We’ve all enjoyed MaClay Gardens. To keep MaClay in its true historical context, the school should stay.
    • Few are as white as me, but I can assure you white guilt is not a factor. Marxists use of race to”disrupt & dismantle” today, is not a good reason to rob future generations of real history

  2. The decision on the preservation off this historical building is following an irrational and undemocratic path.

    Several concerned citizens have proposed above alternatives that are much less costly to the tax payers and less enabling of the greed of land owners and contractors than what the commission is contemplating.

    Why doesn’t the Leon County Commission have a benefit cost analysis of the above alternative options to compare to their proposal and put it to the citizens to decide which way to go?

  3. $3.3 million to “save” a one-room shack?
    You’ve got to be kidding!

    Taxahassee commissars are like drunken sailors, except it’s our money they’re pi$$ing away.

    Vote them all out.

  4. @ Pat A ……. That would be a good idea BUT, that’s where the Blue Print money comes from and look how well they Spend THAT money.

    I say we put it on the Ballot and who ever Votes TO restore it gets the Property Tax raised.

  5. …because it was a black school? A bit ironic considering the dropout rate in the African American community.

    Let’s pay for it using a new gas tax so EVERYONE has to contribute not just the property owners. It is easy to support free stuff/new stuff when you do not have to pay for it.

  6. You could get this commission to eat a frozen dog with a threat to call them racists. Tallahassee has a Historical Society, where are they? Why do I have to pay for the removal and preservation of their shack? I can’t get the dang street fixed in Indian Head Acres, how bout we spend some money on that? You schmucks…

    Our local government is run by immoral children without the good sense god gave a sack of gravel! As evidenced by that Alexander cat who is all over the Tallahassee Democrat today!

    What a disgrace…they are all drunk on our money and have lost their ever lovin’ minds!

  7. Who, exactly, will this be for? A handful of TOC chosen minority contractors to make a killing off of the millions spent on preservation of something that should take a tiny fraction of that?
    A handful of white liberals who want to assuage their self inflicted guilt?
    Keeping this thing in situ is a pointless waste of money. If the black community really is into preserving this thing, where are the volunteers and donations?
    If it really is to be preserved, the Tallahassee Museum is the best likely candidate. It will be used for education as the other buildings are used, not taking millions to fix up, and be seen by far more people than if it remains where it is for a few to see after the money is spent then sit forgotten again as they move onto their next project to assuage their guilt.

  8. They moved the concord school house that sat on my grandfathers land to the jr museum and that worked out just fine

  9. Our elected officials spend taxpayer money like water. They appear to be oblivious to the fact that inflation is soaring and we are drowning in debt as individuals and as a country.

    The plan seems to be to keep spending as though money were no object until we are all broke and living in abject poverty.

    @Edward and David T. have some sense, we need to elect people like them.

  10. I think preserving the historical “schoolhouse” is a good idea. The land it currently sits on, and the surrounding properties, are irrelevant to the notion. Seems to me that a simple and less costly option would be to move the schoolhouse to a accessible location within the Maclay Gardens State Park and renovate it into a usable community meeting room. No need for a consultant, no need for lobbyists… just get your lazy tails up and walk down the street to the Capital and make the deal. No one at the state level will balk at the idea for fear of being called racist. You see, you can use the race car for something good… what a concept.

  11. The county needs to hire Altamese Barnes as a consultant to help them through this process.

    “Maddox stated he doesn’t like the idea of depleting the county’s contingency funds for the current fiscal year when hurricane season is upon us”.

    And yet Nick Maddox didn’t feel that way when he voted to give 27 million dollars for stadium seats depleting the Blueprint fund.

    There are ways to acquire the schoolhouse and be fiscally responsible so take Nick Maddox out of the picture and put Ms Barnes into play here.

  12. WHY do you need direct access from Thomasville Road? Isn’t there a Dirt Road already in place on Halls Landing Road that gives you access to the School House? It is not like a Convoy of Cars will be going to it every day. WHY will it take $2.4 Million to Renovate a ONE ROOM School House? I would really like to know.

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