Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Photographer Inspired to Save and Preserve Fodice School
Houston County Courier - August 2008
The Fodice Foundation is a grassroots organization currently seeking non-profit status to save and preserve a rapidly deteriorating piece of Texas History--namely the one-story Fodice School, about all that remains of a once thriving community.
Co-founder of the organization and photographer Katy Anderson grew up not far from Fodice in Lovelady, where she graduated from Lovelady High School. According to her, she found "instant inspiration" when she was first shown the place over 13 years ago.
Ms. Anderson began shooting there in high school and fell in love with the building and its interesting history.
Over the years, she has used this building as her artistic sanctuary and credits her unique style of photography to the countless hours she has spent exploring and experimenting with her creative instincts there.
She writes, "When I found it, the classrooms were full of desks, the shelves were crammed with books and it felt very much like a time capsule."
The community of Fodice was a freedmen's town that developed in rural East Texas following the Civil War. Some sources maintain that the town's name came from "four dice," a favorite dice game of the early inhabitants.
Never incorporated or platted, and still located along the original unimproved dirt road, Fodice is nestled in the piney woods just a few miles from the Davy Crockett National Forest.
It was designated as a historic landmark in Houston County in 1997. The Fodice community school began operating in the 1880s and was housed in the local Methodist Church until about 1900 when a proper schoolhouse was built west of the church.
By 1914 Fodice had two general stores, a cotton gin, a gristmill, a Masonic hall and a post office.
Between 1938 and 1940 improvements were made to the school building through the Works Projects Administration or WPA. The new school was in use from 1940 up to the early 1960s and had an average enrollment estimated at 250 pupils until desegregation forced its students to consolidate into other area schools.
"Being a photographer, it's easy to understand why I would be drawn to such a place but my personal history and love for this building runs deeper than simply admiring it for its obvious beauty," explained Ms. Anderson.
"It has been both my studio and my classroom. It was within its walls that I was able to think quietly, undisturbed and without distraction, surrounded by beautiful things of a past I would have otherwise known nothing of."
The Fodice community's population dwindled over the ensuing years. The post office was closed in 1966 and the Fodice School itself became property of the Groveton Independent School District upon consolidation.
The school was then leased back to the people of Fodice to use as a community center. But with its residents slowly migrating to neighboring towns for work and school, there were few left to take care of the school and it has remained unused and un-maintained for close to 30 years now.
The Fodice Foundation is envisioned as a not-for-profit community service organization having three distinct phases of growth. The phased growth process allows the foundation time to raise the needed funds to complete each step required in preparing the Fodice School to be a functioning art facility.
The first step-Phase 1 is to promote awareness of the foundation and to raise the funds that are needed to proceed to Phase 2, Stabilization/Restoration.
The funding will come from many sources including private donations, historical preservation grants, state and federal arts grants and also from public fundraising events.
The foundation's goal is to raise $100,000 to begin Phase 2 Promotions and fundraising will continue throughout this stage. The projected cost to complete Phase 2 is $500,000.
Phase 3 marks the completion of restoration and begins the launch of the residency program. The foundation will accept proposals for the first session of residency, and start its planned operations that include exhibitions by residents and local artists, performances by residents, fundraising and ticketed events, informal lectures, and community classes.
Ms. Anderson concluded, "It was here that I taught myself to be a good photographer. For these reasons, saving the Fodice School and preserving it for others to use as I have is very important to me and something I feel I was put here to do."
For more information about The Fodice Foundation, 2020 Commerce St. Studio D, Houston, TX, call 281-787-3031 or www.fodicefoundation.org.