Silent Hero takes historic landmark to new heights

Steve Smith through the Historic Dupree School Preservation Project played a major factor in helping protect the Dupree School building from loss.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 7:22 PM CDT
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ASHFORD, Ala. (WTVY) - The Dupree School opened its doors in 1904.

Over the decades, it transformed into a place where people gathered for family reunions, home demonstration classes and entertainment.

After weathering storms and vandalism, community members feared the loss of the building.

That led to the formation of a group called ‘Friends of the Dupree School.’

Their purpose– to bring the school back to life.

One person in particular was instrumental in that process, earning him the recognition of this month’s Silent Hero award.

As community members gathered to brainstorm ways to keep the Historic Dupree School alive, Steve Smith heard a still small voice in his head telling him it is time to speak up and do more.

That burning desire to elevate the vision of the landmark stems from his deep family connection to the school. Smith grew up a mile from the schoolhouse; a place where his mother and grandparents once filled those classroom seats as students.

That’s why he feels it’s his responsibility to give back.

Chairman of the Historic Dupree School House Board Steve Smith is recognized for his work on the 119-year-old landmark

“We have so much to owe to those generations. We not only want to preserve these landmarks, but we are working to return light and life,” says Smith.

Thanks to Smith, who is the Chairman of the Historic Dupree School House Board, restoration of the school will soon begin.

Once restored, there will be programs for farmers, support programs for teachers, and college extension programs.

“It will also be one of the Wiregrass’ finest examples of a community center,” noted Smith.

His goal is to revive that spirit of community and see how we can learn from each other.

Smith is taking the 119-year-old landmark far beyond a preservation project, encouraging the Friends of Dupree School to dream big.

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