ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. -- Alumni of Mary N. Smith Middle School are hard at work to restore the building to its former glory. After opening in 1953, the building closed down in 2003 and sat vacant for nearly a decade. 

We walked around the school on Thursday with Colby West, director of the Mary N. Smith Alumni Association. Venturing upstairs, and the signs of decay were clear as day. 

Insulation leaked from the ceiling, glass doors were shattered and with one swift scrape, West chipped paint straight off the walls. 

West, who graduated from Mary N. Smith in 1968, told us the schools storied halls weren't always the mess we saw today. 

"From 1935 until 1970, it was just and Afro-American, yeah, only black school in Accomack County," said West. 

In 1971, the school integrated, and for the next 30 years the building welcomed students of all races. Then in '03, as more middle and high schools in the area popped up, Mary N. Smith closed. 

Fast forward to 2024 and West and other alumni are working to restore what Mary Nottingham Smith started. So far, they've put $300,000 worth of work into the building: re-doing the tiling downstairs, re-painting all the downstairs walls and refurbishing the original gym. 

"We put in all new central air and heat, that cost about $50,000, $60,000," said West. 

All of the work put in downstairs allowed the Boys and Girls Club to move in about three years ago. 

Jamonte Baines with the Boys and Girls Club is excited to see it continue. 

"We can actually expand more, do more, be more in the community, more involved," said Baines. 

Baines is also appreciative of the support the historic building has received from the community.

"It's great to see that actually people in the community are willing to give back because you don't really see that a lot," said Baines. "People willing to want to expand a building so historic as Mary N. Smith is a big thing, big plus for Accomack County." 

The Alumni Association is looking to raise between $4 million and $5 million through donations and grants to finish up the work. West said the group recently received some help from the state, getting a $50,000 planning grant. 

He said if they're able to raise enough money the goal is to have all renovations completed within the next three to four years.