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Washington College Academy faces hail damage, turns to community

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

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Washington College Academy has served the community in many forms over the last 241 years. Now those at the college are hoping the community will return the favor.

The academy had some 200 windows knocked out during the Saturday, March 27, hailstorm that blasted throughout Washington County and also caused some lighting and roof damage to the college.

“I ran outside trying to get to my car, but I couldn’t make it. It started coming down fast,” WCA Office Manager Jennifer Rasnake said. “It was terrifying. Right now, we are estimating about 200 windows or more were damaged.”

Washington College Academy had more than 200 windows destroyed during the March 27 storm.
(Photos contributed)

Buildings such as the President’s House, the Pence building, the gym and Harris Hall all suffered window damage while Temple Hall had roughly 170 windows taken out by the storm.

Replacing typical window glass is one thing, but the biggest struggle, Rasnake said, is facing the amount each piece of restoration glass costs.

“We have two buildings on the historical registry and we have to keep that up to code. We have to have restorative windows in those buildings,” Rasnake said. “Normal windows run about $5 each. But the restorative glass runs about $25 a pop.”

Cost to cover all damage at WCA from the storm, including the replacement glass, is estimated at $50,000.

“Right now we only have liability (insurance) so any of the damages are coming out of our pocket,” Rasnake said. “We are basically just asking the community to donate or help with labor to kind of help us get this taken care of.”

Rasnake said the academy is asking for monetary donations but could also use volunteer time and services to replace the windows and clean up the historical college.

“If anyone wants to volunteer, they can contact us,” Rasnake said. “If we can get a group or even if one person wants to volunteer, we have debris laying everywhere. We need to clean up. And now we need help getting the windows put in and help clearing up after the windows are put in. That’s a job in itself.”

The college, which was Tennessee’s first school, was founded in 1780 by Samuel Doak and since then, has served as an academy, a college, a female institute, a secondary school in cooperation with the Washington County School System, a private secondary school, and now, a school of arts and crafts. 

For that reason, Rasnake said, WCA is a beloved place in the community.

“I know a lot of people say it has a special place in their heart,” Rasnake said. “Over the years it’s been an all-girls college. It’s been a college for boys and girls. It’s just got a lot of history. A lot of people love this place.”

Today the Washington College Academy School of Arts and Crafts offers classes such as blacksmithing, painting, stained glass, pottery and writing, among others. The academy is also looking to host a kids camp for elementary and middle school-aged children this summer in addition to a High School Art Day that will be hosted on Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“(The Washington College Academy School of Arts and Crafts) has been going for three years,” Rasnake said. “We’ve really taken off the past year or so. We’re doing our best to get it up and going.”

The college also offers the opportunity for anyone wanting to teach a class to submit an application, just as a bowmaker from Kentucky, who was featured on the History Channel, did last year.

“We’re getting out there to other states as well,” Rasnake said. “We’re trying to reach other states and stay with our local community too. We just want to get the word out. If you have a fun class you want to teach, submit your information and we’ll review it and see if you can come teach with us.”

For now, WCA is ready to get to work to restore its building with a little help from community members.

“I would say it’s over $50,000 worth of damage, but we estimated just $50,000,” Rasnake said. “If we get even half of that, we’re just thankful for people being gracious enough to share with us.”

Rasnake added that WCA also offers a volunteer time in exchange for class credits.

“If anybody is interested in coming out here and volunteering, we offer a volunteer program where if you do help us, we will count that towards time for classes,” Rasnake said. “So if they come out and do four hours of work, that would count for a three hour class. So we offer that as an option. 

“We are always looking for volunteers. We always need the help.”

WCA currently has a GoFundMe page that can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/tennessees-oldest-school-needs-your-help. 

You can also send donations through paypal or the square app or via check to 116 Doak Lane in Limestone, TN 37681. 

For more information, call (423) 257-5151 or visit WCA’s facebook, instagram or website at www.wca1780.com.