Moving a piece of history

Dale S. Aungst House Movers maneuver the former Pine Grove schoolhouse into place at a new spot across the street from where it has stood in Clary for more than 100 years. Rachel Mahoney/Daily

STRASBURG – A building that’s been part of the Clary community for more than 100 years has settled at a new spot.

A crowd gathered to watch on Tuesday morning as workers with Dale S. Aungst House Movers slowly wheeled the former Pine Grove schoolhouse from its Pine Grove Road location across the street. The building will now rest on farm land near Karen and Robert Gnegy’s house and face Clary Road and Signal Knob beyond it, with masonry work around the foundation to be completed over the weekend.

Karen Gnegy said for years she and her neighbor Sherry Brackin had discussed moving the building from Brackin’s land. Brackin’s house was built behind the old schoolhouse.

Gnegy said she had trouble finding a moving company, since many she spoke with were wary of potentially damaging the building. She said that although Brackin gave her the schoolhouse, moving it cost $18,000.

For Gnegy, the old schoolhouse has sentimental value as the place where her grandfather and uncle went to school. She said she couldn’t recall any stories about the school from her grandfather, Lauck Pangle, who passed away 36 years ago.

“I think all of us wish there’s times where we could go back and ask questions,” she said.

Instead, she’s referred to the book “Reflections: Early Schools of Shenandoah County” for information and background on the schoolhouse. The book reports that the earliest records of the building date to 1885 and that it closed in 1941, sold to Pearl Bly in 1943 for $725 – which would’ve been more than a $10,000 transaction today. It also states that the original building was “either torn down or remodeled” around 1900.

Others who showed up to see the move also had friends and family who attended the school. Jane Holsinger, 78, said her mother and siblings studied there when they lived close by. By the time she was old enough attend, the school had closed and she went to the Oranda schoolhouse in the next community down the road.

Holsinger said students went to the schoolhouses through seventh grade and finished up their education at Strasburg High School.

Gnegy said the building has been transformed since it was the Pine Grove schoolhouse, with added vinyl siding, a chimney and a kitchen attached to the back for use as a house. The kitchen and two chimneys were taken out, since Gnegy said she and her husband plan on using the building for storage of farm equipment.

“I imagine most of the old schools in the county were turned into residences,” she said.

To note the building’s long history as a schoolhouse, Gnegy said she’ll be placing a sign on the door. She said she’d like to hang photos of the school and its students on a wall inside.

“The main thing is, we’re saving history,” she said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or