LAUREL HILL —The audience found the music performed at the recent Laurel Hill Christmas celebration both beautiful and moving.
But at least one group — Friends of Laurel Hill — were working to spread more than Christmas joy.
The group wants to save the community center where the concert was performed. The center formerly the Laurel Hill School, which was built in the 1940’s as an elementary, middle and high school all in one building. It was later given to Scotland County for community use once new schools were being built in the area. It includes classrooms and gym.
“This is one of our events that we’re doing to raise awareness for the auditorium and let people know it’s for rent and we are trying to do something for the community,” said Connie Coleman with the Friends of Laurel Hill group. “We are a group that has gotten together to try to save the buildings.”
Center supporters hope that by hosting concerts in the building once a month, there will be enough expediency to keep the building around.
“The county may do renovations if we are able to use it in the future,” said William Trivette with the group. “They gave us one year to generate enough use to justify keeping it.”
Donations made at the event will be used to pay bands to play at the center. The effort is not-for-profit, organizers said.
“We want people to hold events here,” Trivette said. “It would be a whole lot cheaper than using Scotland High School or St. Andrews’ auditorium.”
The group hopes to bring in anything from ballet recitals to church groups. The first Christmas caroling event was held Friday to spread holiday cheer while saving the building.
The event also brought in sentimentalists looking to save the building.
“I started here in first grade and went all the way through to the 12th,” said Harry Coleman. “This is a historical building, it has great acoustics in it and they are trying to build another building, but this is a good building so why tear it down?”
He mentioned the building has great sound and hasn’t needed maintenance in 20 years.
“I came out to hear some good Christmas music and I used to go to school here,” said Brenda Peele, Laurel Hill resident. “I’m from just right down the road and I graduated from here.”
The next concert will be held Feb. 13 when the Tarheel Rhythm Band will travel down from Troy to play for the community.
“I was invited to come down here to listen to the gospel music and the Christmas songs and I’m enjoying it very much,” said Bill Brady, lead singer of Tarheel. “I got to meet a lot of new folks and they are very nice people and the folks running this place really deserve a break — we really want this community to support them.”
The group hopes to continue the monthly concerts to save the center. It offers a place for community members to come, sit and have a good time while saving the center, organizers said.
“We’d love to have people come out for our next one in February,” Coleman said. “It’s a great band and we would love to fill this place up and have people come out and enjoy themselves.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.