Woman, 106, hopes to see old one-room schoolhouse restored

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COOPERSVILLE, Mich. -- People in Ottawa County are hoping to create new life for a little piece of history.

An old one-room schoolhouse in Coopersville could soon get an upgrade, and one of its past students is helping make it happen.

Ruth Brifling, 106, is doing everything she can to save the memories she had at South Evergreen schoolhouse.

The old schoolhouse on Leonard Street served as a community gathering place after the Civil War, teaching kindergarten through 8th grade all in one room.

"We had to walk a mile to school," said Brifling.

The school operated for about 100 years, closing in 1959.  It has sat empty since then, but now two people are spearheading the committee to save South Evergreen.

Jim Key and Jim Fitzpatrick hope to turn it into a future learning space for nearby schools with bike racks and picnic tables. So far, they've raised more than $36,000.

Their first donation came from Ruth.

"She's been kind of an inspiration to us to get it going and get it done," Key said.

After two years of hard work, Key and Fitzpatrick have repainted the school and put on a new roof. Phase Two renovations will happen on the inside of the schoolhouse.

"I would love to see the South Evergreen School come so I can go over there, sit and reminisce and think about all the teachers we used to have," Brifling said.

You can help the team continue raising money this Saturday at an 8 a.m. pancake breakfast at Crockery Township Hall, 17431 112th Ave.

There is also a GoFundMe page set up to help raise donations for the cause.

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