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A place of their own

Dozens of people wandered into an event at the Green Valley School for the first time in decades, thanks to a group of hard-working veterans who saw an opportunity and jumped at the chance.

The Green Valley School closed in 1949 and hasn’t been completely renovated since. Gary Steele, a member of the Denton chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of American and Green Valley Historical Society, saw a pair of organizations with specific needs. The veterans needed a meeting place, and the school was in desperate need of repair.

“We’ve been meeting at the VFW for years and we saw this old building and thought, ‘Well, we need a project to do,’” Steele said in an interview.

After four years and 15,000 hours of manpower, the veterans held their open house event to show their work to the public on July 22.

The group worked to completely renovate the interior of the building, but had to start with the foundation and the roof first. They leveled the foundation and jacked up the roof, before moving to the interior of the building.

Inside the school, groups of people filed through the central hallway, which runs east/west down the center of the building. On the south side of the hall, there’s a large community room for events and on the north side of the wall there’s a kitchen area with restrooms and a schoolroom the group kept identical to the original space.

“We did this building right,” Steele said, noting that the walls were re-insulated to make the building more effective.

The Vietnam veterans were meeting at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Sunset Street in Denton, and Steele said it’s been a blessing to have a building for them to meet.

“It’s tremendous. Not only do we use it for our own personal use for our meetings and stuff, but we had a funeral out here, two funerals, for two of our brothers that passed away,” he said. “We had 140 people sitting in that room and it was nice to not have to worry about getting a facility.”

The veterans also added a metal barn in the back of the lot for parade vehicles that they use for community events. All 155 members have use of the schoolhouse for events and gatherings. Steele said they also will make the space available for the public to rent for a fee.

Many of the materials were donated by local companies throughout the construction process, including air-conditioning units from Lennox and metal materials from Metl-Span in Lewisville.

“Everything, it seems, that we have asked for people have stepped up,” he said. “It’s just been a blessing. People can come out and use it. It’s just a great building.”

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