By BLAKE BOYLE
For The Vista
World War I hero Sergeant Alvin C. York’s great-granddaughter Deborah York spoke to the Fairfield Glade Rotary Club on October 1 and gave an update on the work of the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation and its work to restore the York Institute building located in Jamestown, TN.
Alvin York only received a 3rd grade education and that was not unusual in rural Tennessee in the early 1900’s due to the demands of working on family farms.
According to Sgt. York “When I went out into that big outside world, I realized how uneducated I was and what a terrible handicap it was. I was called to lead my people toward a sensible modern education.”
After the war Sgt. York began efforts to raise money to build a school for those children and adults of the Cumberland Plateau who desired to earn a formal education.
Sgt. York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and similar honors from around the world. Using speaking fees he earned and mortgaging his home and farm, Sgt. York was finally able to build the York Institute.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The State of Tennessee acquired the facility in the 1930’s but let it run down to the point that it was scheduled for demolition in 1979.
In 2008 the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation acquired the deserted facility that was slated for demolition.
The foundation has already raised and spent approximately $1 million for this preservation work.
An additional $4-5 million is needed for complete restoration and adaptive reuse.
For more information on the work of the foundation, please go to www.sgtyork.org.
Deborah York was joined by two of Sgt. York’s surviving sons George and Andrew York at the Fairfield Glade Rotary Club Meeting to answer questions from the audience.
Rotary President Chris Celik presented a $300 check to the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation to help them in their work to save the York Institute.