When Browns Park residents Bob and Mara Molloy arrived Wednesday afternoon at Maybell Elementary School, their hosts were prepared.
The 14 Maybell students had spent the lesson before the Molloys’ arrival researching the subject of their visit: Two historical portraits of former presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
After hearing a presentation from the students about what they’d learned about the historical figures, the Molloys presented the students with two prints made from nearly 100-year-old portraits that hang in the historic Lodore Hall in Browns Park.
The donation was made on behalf of the Browns Hole Homemakers Club.
“The donation of these portraits to the Maybell School is one of the ways we hope to help the children of the next generation appreciate the wonderful history of our great nation,” Mara said.
The donation came as the result of positive comments made by several Maybell residents who had attended a recent community event at Lodore Hall, Bob said.
The hall, also known as Lodore School, is on the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For the past 99 years, the historical building has served a number of purposes, including housing a school, an election center and hosting dances and holiday parties.
Inside the hall, the two historic portraits dating back before the hall was built signify its ties to a rich American history.
“They’re kind of unusual,” Maybell teacher Rhonda Willingham said of the portrait prints. “It was really thoughtful of them to do that.”
She said in their research, the students didn’t find any portraits similar to the ones the Homemakers Club donated.
The Homemakers Club is a community service organization of volunteers dedicated to helping with community events and projects as well as the maintenance and restoration of the Lodore School.
“The acquisition of the portraits is part of the effort to restore the building and its contents to a condition as near as possible as when the school opened in 1911,” Mara said. “Many people attending events recently had remarked how nice it would be to have smaller copies of the portraits, so we now have framed 8 1/2-by-11-inch copies available.”
Willingham said she was grateful to the Molloys for coming to her classroom and sharing a bit of local history.
“It was a real connection for them,” she said of her students. “Anytime that the community gets involved in the schools … there is just so much to learn from community members, especially those from such a rural area.”