In July 2004, a group of interested Spencer residents, former students and former teachers began meeting each week for the next three months. Such dedication and love for an old building could only bring success, but we had to obtain the building first.
We didn't go into this endeavor blindly, just innocently. We studied the good and bad attributes of the building, such as a fairly new roof and huge gas tank in the ground. We brainstormed what the building could become to help the community. The Spencer community had basically centered around the school for so long. No one could think of a time without the brick building located at 475 Spencer Penn Road.
We had to also think of a plan to convince the Board of Supervisors to give us the property. Previously, several schools that had been closed and sold became eye sores to the community. The Supervisors were going to be a tough nut to crack. It was going to take convincing them that an inexperienced group wearing rose-colored glasses could take a 39,000 square foot building and make it a success.
A business plan, which contained our vision of the building and ways to make it sustainable, was crudely composed. We also circulated petitions which people signed in support. Former students who lived miles and miles away offered their support. At the board meeting, we had people who spoke on our behalf. We worked with Benny Summerlin (County Administrator) and David Davis (Board Chairman) on plans regarding the use of the ball field. We wanted children to still play ball there so we agreed for the Parks and Rec Department to lease the field for twenty years for twenty dollars. Everything was looking good, but we had to decide what to pay for the property. Yes, we had to pay! We offered $15,000, which people say was a bargain. Maybe it was, but when you don't have a nickel, $15,000 is a huge commitment.
We received the deed to the property in November of 2004. To pay the County and to get us through the first year, we borrowed $20,000. With hard work and generous donations, we were able to be debt free in one year and have not borrowed money since.
Also between July and December of 2004, the group was busy with organizational business: the board was elected, by-laws were written, incorporation application and 501c3 status were filed. We also had other applications filed with the government and many inspections, along with starting work on the application for the Historic Register! After we received the deed, we had to get insurance and hook up the electricity. Busy, but BUSY really started in January 2005.