THE FOMZI STORY
The dilemma that had faced both the Mt. Zion Society and the Town of Winnsboro had not been borne by them alone. Others earnestly wanted to save the buildings and their heritage of education. Several families with strong ties to the school and the town, the McMaster and Lyles families among them, made private efforts to generate interest in the project, with little success. Announcement of the pending demolition in 2008, however, renewed the fire to make one last effort, and that is how the Friends of Mt. Zion Institute came to be.
Assisted by Pelham Lyles, Director of the Fairfield Museum, and Mike Bedenbaugh of Palmetto Trust, word went out to the community and beyond that a steering committee was being organized to take on the project. Bill McMaster, whose family philanthropy was willing to generously assist a concerted effort toward educational purposes, had already begun making overtures in the direction of contracting with the town and the demolition company to delay the school's demise for 180 days.
The first organizational meeting was held in April of that year. A chairman and recording secretary were named and subsequent meetings established key subcommittees to handle publicity, research, building oversight and fund-raising. FOMZI sought and was granted affiliation with The Mt. Zion Society for the purpose of taking tax-deductible donations under the Society's 501c3 status.
It was decided early on that the focus of the committee would be saving Mt. Zion in a way that would best serve the town and county and do no harm to the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Since our inception and through the events related on the UPDATES page, The Friends of Mt. Zion Institute has gone from a steering committee to a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit independent of the Society. Our role in the Mt. Zion effort has changed several times; we've been very public activists promoting rehabilitation and reuse, then necessarily quiet supporters of the most recent plan for development by a firm experienced in this type undertaking. Now, as of Novembeer 2011, we are again in the midst of the struggle, embarking on a Capital Pledge Campaign in order to offer a proposal to move the stalled project forward.
Through it all, though, we've tried to stay true to the intent of saving the buildings and preserving the Mt. Zion story. The organization will continue, and this website will continue to share the still-unfolding story.
YOU MAY WONDER ....
HAVE A QUESTION? ASK US! IF WE CAN, WE'RE HAPPY TO ANSWER IN THIS SPOT OR ON OUR UPDATES PAGE. IF WE CAN'T, WELL, WE'LL TELL YOU THAT HERE TOO.