The J.M. Lindsay School is vacant again.

Susan Ellis, director of the Oak Tree Academy — a planned junior high and high school level faith-based alternative school for special-needs children — announced in a recent letter to financial supporters she has given up on restoring the historic school.

She said the voluntary cancellation of her lease of the building from Grace Ellen properties of Denton was due to damage to the building and a lack of insurance purchased by the owners.

She said the owners have considered demolition of the J.M. Lindsay School as an option if they cannot sell it.

The effort, however, brought together many volunteers to save the historic school. More importantly, Ellis said, some lives were affected.

“During the lease period I was able to minister to at least 16 boys from the Gainesville State School by providing encouragement, prayer, books and the gospel,” she said. “... I especially want to recognize the tireless labor of the youth who came from the Gainesville State School and their caretakers who provided much of the needed labor to clean up the building after the storm and from the vandals who continually strike out at the building,”

A severe hail storm April 28 blew out more than a hundred windows at the J.M. Lindsay School, as well as in buildings across Cooke County.

“The cost to repair the windows is beyond what I desire to invest in the lease of the building,” she said. “The owners did not desire to purchase insurance and I was unaware of that fact when I entered into the lease ...”

Ellis said she is seeking another location for the program, noting the infrastructure is in place for an educational program.

“If this community desires to see the JM Lindsay school be a school again that teaches kids right from wrong and the truth and gives them a hope for the future then someone will need to purchase the building and donate it to the effort as I no longer desire to put more effort into building repair than to helping kids succeed,” she said. “... If the community wishes to see kids succeed and invest in the future of the country then they will need to see that the public school system needs help. And I can give them the help that they are restricted, by political forces, from giving them.

In the letter, she thanked members of the “faith community” of Gainesville, and noted that members from Calvary Chapel Denton, Dove Chapel Gainesville, First Baptist Church of Gainesville, First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville and Cooke County Baptist Association helped in the effort.

Civic organizations such as the Optimist Club and the Lions Club provided monetary donations, and many businesses offered free services such as pest control, electric service and labor.

Ellis thanked Sue Goodwin of the Gainesville Factory Shops Mall for donating space to do a sweets tasting fund-raiser earlier this year, and those who provided deserts.

To help with the next phase of the Oak Tree Academy, contact Ellis at 668-7085 or e-mail her at sellis[at]

Reporter Andy Hogue may be ontacted at andyhoguegdr[at]