Auxiliary, Inc., restores former school to keep it a part of the community in Huntington, Arkansas. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

Auxiliary, Inc., restores former school to keep it a part of the community

HUNTSVILLE, ARK. – For a community to thrive, it’s essential to have somewhere people can congregate; somewhere to meet, play, visit, and celebrate events. Though such places are essential for strong community bonds, often it can be difficult to find the funding and dedication to maintain them.

When Glenda Hurt moved from Kansas back home to Huntington, Arkansas in the early 2000s, she became involved in helping to restore the Dayton Community Building. Yet, with no clear owner of the building, no one had been performing the necessary upkeep, causing the structure to age and fall apart.

Her cousin, Lee Anne Goines, was a pivotal figure in the building’s restoration. When she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she left her job and instead put her time into fixing the Dayton building. She worked tirelessly to move plans along and helped make the most out of what budget they had to work with. She found the best offers on supplies and even earned a grant to fund the renovation, allowing them to put in new flooring, extra insulation, and a new acoustic ceiling.

Cafeteria and community room in the Dayton Community Building in Huntsville, Arkansas. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

After a fire at the Greenwood courthouse and a tornado that hit the area in the late 1960s, most records of the building have been lost or destroyed. The only document of the building that has survived is the last deed, which is dated back to 1929. It lists the Waters family, a prominent family in Dayton, selling the property to the Mansfield School District.

Years after Lee Anne passed, Glenda wanted to continue the work on the building. She, along with the help of Cindy Davis and Stephanie Stinebaugh, founded a nonprofit called Auxliary, Inc., which was created to organize around preserving the building. The Mansfield School District signed the building over to the Auxiliary in early 2019, and as of today, they are the owners of the Dayton Community Building, with Glenda serving as the Auxiliary’s president.

The loss of records of the building and filling in the gaps of its history continued to be something that stirred interest; particularly since there is evidence that the current building, as it stands, was not the first, but rather the second. The main thing that raised Glenda’s suspicions was old photographs of the Dayton building and her grandmother’s memory of the building bein

g new when she attended school there – in 1917. The first building was most likely built in the mid to late 1800s.

“This building was erected in about 1917,” Glenda explained. “That is either when they remodeled the building, or tore it down and built this one. That’s what I don’t know yet. That’s what we’re still trying to find out.”

After fixing up the building a bit she had the idea to begin renting the building out for birthdays and anniversaries, which attracted an increasing amount of attention from the community for the first time in years. Glenda expanded her plans with the building to create fundraisers and community events, which embodies the role Glenda and the Auxiliary would like to see the building play in Dayton.

Dayton Community Building host numerous events throughout the year. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo

“That’s our goal as the Auxiliary is to keep this building in the community. So our role is to keep having events.”

One example of such events the Dayton building hosts is last year’s Christmas in the Country, which had a great turnout of people. They provided booths to local vendors that sold things such as quilts, macram, antiques, woodworking, and goat soap. Each vendor also contributed something for a door prize contest. They had a Santa for children to meet at the gathering and served soup and cornbread with desserts.

These are the types of events that bring the community together, not only by celebrating together but also by giving somewhere for local farmers and producers to share their products with others.

As the building continues to succeed as a pillar for Dayton, Glenda still has more ideas for the services it could provide the area. Seeing as the building started as a schoolhouse, she has thought of using it as a classroom for homeschooling co-ops. They have also started providing memorial services.

If the funds could be secured, the next steps for the building would likely be fixing up the old basketball court, rebuilding the old walking trail, handicapped parking, and constructing an outdoor play area.

“Used to – the kids in the community – they’d come over here and play basketball,” Glenda reminisces. “Y’know, we’d come over here, and the kids would bring their basketballs after church and play; well, it’s so messed up now, it’s not…useable. But y’know, it’s just good wholesome fun, and that’s why we want to continue to keep this building thriving, is because of that. So someone can have a safe place to go and not have to pay $500 in rent for a building, just to have a birthday party or wedding or whatever.”

Christmas in the Country is planned to take place again this year, as well as other seasonal events such as the Fall Festival. Updates on events happening at the Dayton Community Building can be found on their official Facebook page.

Glenda Hurt with the Dayton Community Building sign. Submitted Photo.
Submitted Photo


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