Closing the book on Fisher school with big auction

FISHER – In the market for a nice used organ? How about a fire escape, a basketball hoop or a gym floor?

Fisher Grade School will sell those items and many, many more, including hundreds of old-fashioned desks, at an auction Saturday, Oct. 18, that begins at 10 a.m. at the old school on School Street.

"We're selling anything and everything," said Principal Jim Moxley, who moved with his 310 students into a brand new school this fall. "Chalkboards? Make an offer, but the buyer's responsible for taking them down. There are old slate boards, handrails, wooden cabinets fastened to the wall. And the gym floor's only about 10 years old and it's in good shape."

"All reasonable offers will be considered," Moxley said. "But safety will be an issue. We don't want people to get hurt taking things from the building."

He said the list of items for sale includes about 250 student desks.

"They're the old, one-piece kind with lift tops," Moxley said. "They're a dying breed, but someone could refinish and paint them to keep as mementos. A lot of them need work."

He said some alert former students might be able to find traces of their tenure on some of the desks.

Other hot items are likely to be the school's athletic equipment, which includes basketball hoops, backboards and other equipment. And the school's selling some antiques, including a file cabinet and shelves.

One piano and one organ are also on the block. Moxley said the organ is small.

"It was in the music room," he said. "It's a family organ."

He said the old gym, where the auction will be held, is now full of the sale items.

"It's like a furniture graveyard," Moxley said. "It's kind of nostalgic, especially for someone who attended the school."

Auctioneer John Rawdin, whose full-time job is serving as principal of Paxton's junior high school, is volunteering his time for the Fisher school sale.

When the gavel falls for the last time and buyers remove their purchases, the three-story school's fate is sealed.

"It's going to be torn down this fall," Moxley said. "You look at it from the outside and it looks like it's in good shape, but things you can't see have caused problems, things like plumbing, heating and electricity. We were going to have to put $1 million into the heating plant if we'd stayed in there."

The district has had no serious offers to purchase the building, which dates originally from 1914 and has had several additions since then.

Moxley and his students are enjoying their brand new, single-story, 47,000-square-foot, $8.3 million grade school, which was under construction for about 15 months but is now almost finished.

"They're finishing up last-minute touches, mostly yard work," he said.

The new school is at 801 S. Fifth St., adjacent to Fisher High School so shared teachers only have a short distance to travel.

The school board and district administrators held a grand opening at the school Sept. 14 and members of the community showed up in force to take a look at the school they authorized in a referendum.

"It was the most exciting thing to happen in Fisher since the state playoffs in football last fall," Moxley said.

He said proceeds from the auction may be used to help buy playground equipment for the new school or trees for the lawn.

"This is a road we haven't been down, so we don't know what to expect," Moxley said. "There's a lot of local interest so we're expecting a good turnout. I think a lot of people in Fisher are going to want to get a piece of the community's history."

You can reach Anne Cook at (217) 351-5217 or via e-mail at acook@news-gazette.com.

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