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Historic schoolhouse gets renovation through efforts of Chillicothe 4-H club

A 4-H Club and community members in Chillicothe, Missouri are celebrating the completed renovation project of a historic schoolhouse. This weekend the Liberty 4-H Club hosted an open house in the newly-renovated, 134-year-old Swain Schoolhouse.  

The Liberty 4-H Club hasn’t taken the deterioration of its clubhouse over the past few years sitting down.  Over the past three years, the club members and their community have worked to save the Swain Schoolhouse that’s been its home for generations:

“When it comes to 4-H, when it comes to life dream big,” he says. “There’s not many clubs that would take on a project like this.”

Shaun Murphy is the 4-H Youth Development Specialist for Livingston County. He says the Liberty project was a tremendous accomplishment.

The club raised $30,000 in total, through grants and other fundraising efforts over the past three years. 

Emma Leamer is Liberty 4-H Vice President and an 8th grader at Chillicothe Middle School. She says the schoolhouse project was her favorite fundraiser: “We did a hunter’s breakfast where we went to Applebee’s at 4 in the morning and we sold pancakes to hunters that were there early,” she says.

Liberty 4-H Leader and parent Terria Cox says the diverse skills of parents were a big help during the renovations.

“Many talented parents ... we’ve had electricians come in and wire for us,” she says. “We had some construction people put siding on.”

Cox says, even more importantly, the project brought the club and community together: “With us living in rural areas we don’t always get together and do things, so that’s been exciting,” she says.

“It was really cool to see it all come along,” says Leamer. “At first it was just ideas people would be like, 'Hey, we should redo this,' and everyone was kind of skeptical. So it’s just really cool to see it come through.”

Because of those efforts of Leamer and her friends, it looks like the Swain Schoolhouse will be home to another generation of 4-H kids.