Friends of Gaineswood award essay winners

The Friends of Gaineswood recently sponsored a historical essay contest for Demopolis High School students. This is the first time the contest has been held, and its goal is to get more involvement with the community, especially the schools. There are plans to work with the high school and middle school in the coming year.

Friends of Gaineswood is a local non-profit group that was founded in 1994, and its mission is to ensure the restoration, preservation, and interpretation of this historic landmark. Anyone can become a member, and all of the proceeds from the membership drive goes to help maintain the house.

Paige Smith, the Gaineswood Site Director, hopes the contest will get people more interested in the history of Demopolis. “We want people to be aware that we do need historic preservation and I think both of the young ladies who entered this year really showed that the younger generation is aware of that and are willing to help preserve what we have. They are willing to take care of our past so that our future can learn from it.”

Zaria Williams and Lula Boone tied for first place honors, and both received a check for $125. Both of these young ladies wrote essays discussing the importance of historic preservation in general, but with a great emphasis on the Demopolis area.

“Preserving and restoring historical sites such as Gaineswood helps us to get a better understanding of the rich culture of our area,” said Zaria Williams. “Knowledge of the history of our area leads to an enhancement in the pride in our community.”

Miss Williams believes “it is critical that we are well informed of the history of our city, and preserving places like Gaineswood help us have insight into the history of our area and the people who lived long before us.”

Lula Boone had similar remarks, focusing on the importance of history on future generations by saying “By preserving landmarks like Gaineswood, we are showing future generations that anyone can make history, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Boone believes that even those who “weren’t there to live it, feel connected to those who were.” She concluded her essay with words of wisdom which we would all do well to heed: “It is important for historical landmarks to be kept in good condition because the only way to secure our future is to preserve our past.”

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, June 10, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)