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Historic Status Could Save West Broad School Building

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs thinks even the West Broad School’s courtyard is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Credit: Adria Carpenter/file

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently declared three school buildings on West Broad eligible for historic status, which could trigger a review process saving the buildings, but would put a crimp in the Clarke County School District’s plans for an early learning center there.

DCA told the preservation nonprofit Historic Athens last week that the site meets the criteria for the National Register of Historic Places. While that designation alone does not provide any protection, according to Historic Athens Executive Director Tommy Valentine, it could trigger a process called Section 106. The clause in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires a review whenever federal dollars are spent on a project that affects historic properties. CCSD received a $3.9 million Early Head Start grant for the project, in addition to budgeting $10 million in E-SPLOST funds.

CCSD is planning to renovate the 1938 building facing Minor Street but plans to tear down two others. Historic Athens has been fighting to restore one facing Campbell Lane built in the 1950s, but the district’s architects say it can’t be saved.

The three-acre campus is “an intact example of a school complex that expanded and evolved over time to meet the needs of Athens’ African-American students, reflecting evolving attitudes and approaches to school facilities during the early and mid-20th century,” wrote Stephanie L. Cherry-Farmer, the National Register and survey program manager for DCA.

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