Progress: Salute To Murray

April 4, 2012

‘From the cliffs of old Cohutta’

Murray’s historic Rock Building restored to its original glory


The deterioration

As more space was needed for an ever-increasing student population, more rooms were built adjacent to the gym. The Rock Building would remain a part of the high school’s campus, but the center of the school shifted away from the Rock Building, resulting in neglect.

“It was kind of dilapidated, but we still went to school in it,” said Trudy Swilling, a 1960 graduate and a Chatsworth resident. “It was a beautiful building with the rock and coming from the cliffs of the mountain.”

Swilling had attended Colvard School, which she described as “little bitty,” in the north end of the county. Transitioning to the high school was an eye-opener.

Swilling became involved in many activities, and served as a class treasurer, basketball manager and senior class president.

“I didn’t know what I was in for,” she said. “I got a great education. We all went on to college and many of us had great careers. I have great memories from Murray County High School ... I bleed green.”

Attending Murray County High School was a legacy for the Swilling family. Her father, Nelson Harris, was in the first graduating class in 1935. Twenty-five years later Swilling graduated. Twenty-five years later, her son Keith, who is now an assistant principal at North Murray High School, graduated. Twenty-five years later her grandchildren Kelsey and Taylor Swilling graduated. Plus her other children and many of her grandchildren went through the school.

“So every 25 years we’ve had my family in there,” she said.

By the time the current Murray County High School building was constructed in 1989, the Rock Building had fallen into a terrible state of deterioration. It became part of Bagley Middle School, housing only a few classes in the north wing of the building.

The floors were extra creaky. The ceiling sometimes leaked. The building was drafty. Many of the windows had been painted black.

Though a push started to renovate the building into a central office for the school system, it fell further from use, eventually used only for storage.

Text Only
Progress: Salute To Murray
  • rock building1.jpg ‘From the cliffs of old Cohutta’

    Helen Taylor was a bit frightened, but still very excited to be entering Murray County High School.

    April 4, 2012 5 Photos

  • P-logging story mlh.jpg ‘Pretty hard work’

    Buford Witherow said his father told him he saw the remnant of a huge tree cut down some 70 to 80 years ago in the logging days of what is now the Cohutta Wilderness Area that defied imagination.

    April 4, 2012 4 Photos

  • wright hotel:depot2.jpg The Wright Hotel

    Chatsworth has the distinction of being Murray County’s youngest, largest and only “planned” city.

    April 4, 2012 5 Photos