Renovations at Rock School Center to add Pinson library
By Nathan Prewett
For the Tribune
PINSON – Rock School Center in Pinson is a historic landmark in the city that has undergone numerous changes since 1920 and has served different functions over the years as a school and a community center.
“When I was young, if there was a community pancake breakfast or those sorts of things, it was in the Rock School lunch room,” said Pinson Mayor Hoyt Sanders. “So almost everyone in the community has some tie or memory or connection to the Rock School Center.”
Now Rock School Center is undergoing another change and will be home to the Pinson Public Library while still being a community center for the city. The building has been used for different events such as church services and programs by Birmingham Children’s Theatre.
But there are still portions of the building that are not being used, which the city government hopes to change.
“The community through the years has been very interested in renovating the school for sentimental reasons and I’m very excited,” Sanders said. “I think that will change the face of the town center and that will create an entirely different town center view once it’s renovated and brought up to standards.”
Rock School Center derives its name from when Pinson residents began bringing rocks to build the structure that would serve as a school. Over the next several decades it was used as a community school until it was sold by the Jefferson County Board of Education to Solid Rock Church in 2003.
Solid Rock Church eventually moved out of the building and it was acquired by City Hall in 2013, which implemented a tax increase to fund renovations. Sanders said that the project has an overall cost of $1-1 ½ million.
“We’re planning to renovate the rock and WPA portions, which is the front portion, and move the library over there,” Sanders said.
Currently the roof portion of the building is what Sanders said the most critical part of the project. At a meeting on July 20, the council accepted bids for flat roof designs from Hendon + Huckestein, an architectural group. The roofing will be installed by GKL Companies Inc from Rainbow City.
The rear building at Rock School which had four rooms and a restroom has been converted to a public works center, Sanders said. The auditorium section was renovated by Solid Rock Church but Sanders said that the city has updated the light fixtures among some other upgrades.
It is not yet known when the project may be completed but Sanders said it may take roughly six to seven months. Sanders hopes to have bids on the building out by Labor Day this year and have the contracts worked out by December. He hopes to start construction possibly by the first of next year.
The Pinson Public Library currently occupies the same building as City Hall. After it moves to Rock School the space of the library will approximately double in size and will have a larger collection and staff by the time it settles in.
Pinson Public Library Director Allison Scanlan said that the library will have a larger computer space with more public computers as well as individual study rooms. The library has a play room for children that will continue and will be expanded.
For many in the Pinson community, Rock School has been a part of their entire lives. Scanlan said that she has heard many patrons at the library talk about when they went to school there and how it was built by the hands of Pinson citizens.
“Everyone in this community is passionate about that building,” Scanlan said. “And it means a lot to them, so they’re so excited to see it put to use and put it in a way that it can still be part of the community. They’re already invested emotionally in it and now they get to actually be in it again, see it again, love it again in person as a community building.”