As former students and descendants of Julius Restus Neely looked on, a schoolhouse more than one hundred years old was pulled from it's foundation and placed 150 yards closer to the road in China Grove Friday morning.
The historic Neely School was built in 1908 by Neely and his wife Katie Stokes McKenzie Neely. The Neelys were children of slaves and were determined to provide children in the area the education that they were denied.
The school served black children from 1908 until 1948, offering grades 1-7. The family, along with the Rowan County School System, administered the school.
On Friday the school was moved out to its new home, where it will be restored to serve as the anchor for a park dedicated to the school's history.
Even though the structure only travels the length of one and half football fields, it was a struggle. The rains from Thursday night left the pathway muddy, and a bulldozer had to be used to knock down trees that were in the way.
In addition, the bulldozer had to pull the truck that was pulling the school.
The restoration project is a joint effort with the family, Livingstone College, the town of China Grove, the China Grove and South Rowan Historical Societies, and the Rural Initiative Partnership.
The school is located off Neelytown Road just off Corriher Gravel Road in China Grove.