Pocopson Historic Committee chairperson Sarah Mims is extremely concerned about her leaky roof.

Not the one in her home, mind you, but the one at the Locust Grove School House, the 150-year-old building that she and the rest of the committee are trying to preserve.

"It's right around the chimney," she told the board last Monday evening. "And it's going to seep in and cause much more damage."

The township purchased the school house from a private owner three years ago, with the intent of creating something both historically accurate and educationally valuable.

For now, however, a lot remains to be done.

"Right now it has no floor. It's pretty much just a shell inside," Mims said. "It was last used as a residence 15 or 20 years ago, and it was last used as school when Unionville school district was formed, so that's like the 1930s.

The stone and mortar one-room building is one of three original public schools in the township, first built in 1860.

Mims and the historic committee members have been raising funds to restore it as historically accurate as possible. And though they have raised about $25,000 in the past three years, it's barely a drop in the proverbial bucket.

"We need at least $200,000 to do it accurately," Mims said. "It's been very slow going."

Mims said that the $25,000 is a combination of small fund-raising campaigns, selling maps and postcards of historic spots in Pocopson, as well as several grants. The largest grant so far was $10,000 from the Fair Play Foundation in Delaware.

"We have been getting small grants," Mims said. "We've contacted the state historical commission and we've applied for the Chester County Community Development [Block Grant]. But it's a lot of waiting."

Once the funds have been raised and the building restored, Mims hopes to open it to school groups and other youth organizations. She has developed and approved an 1890s-based curriculum that has been approved by the Unionville School District and also meets Pennsylvania social studies standards.

"The teachers do a little pre-teaching then they would come visit us and the kids experience what is was like being a student back then for a day," Mims said.

It will also be a showcase for other artifacts and historical items and photographs associated with township history.

The only thing holding the project back is the money.

"That needs immediate attention," Mims said. "We're always looking for money, and the idea is to have it for the community. So it's all funded by grant money and fund-raising, not the taxpayers money. We've put in a bunch [of grant applications], and it seems we're always waiting to hear back."

For now, the township itself will handle a stopgap patch on the roof free of charge, so long as the historic committee pays for the materials.

Original estimates that Mims received on the roof ranged from $54,000 to $98,000.

"That's quite a price difference," said planning commission member Steve Conary at Monday's meeting.

"This could be a great asset to the community, if we can ever get it done," said board Chairman Bill Sellers.

Mims said that the historic commission is not yet at the level of other local commissions, like that in New Garden where college students have been enlisted as interns to do legwork and research, but she hopes the program will expand.

"We're not that nig yet," Mims said. "But there's a great opportunity here. It just takes time."

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