The historic African-American West Broad School has been in peril for more than a decade now—a fact that recently won some recognition from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The trust placed the school grounds on its 2021 list of “Places in Peril,” a list of 10 historic sites across the state that are in danger of demolition or from neglect.
According to the Places in Peril report, released last month: “The West Broad Street School, a collection of three education buildings, sits on a piece of land dedicated to the education [of] African American students from the late 19th century through integration. The Minor Street building, constructed in 1938, dates to the Jim Crow era. The other buildings date to the 1950s, during the equalization era…
“Recently the Clarke County School District proposed demolition of the buildings to allow for new construction of an early learning center. With no preservation guidance, the site’s historic architecture is at risk of being severely altered or lost. Local partners and community members have worked tirelessly to advocate for sensitive reuse of the existing buildings, allowing the new learning center to have a tangible connection to its important cultural history. The school district has agreed to reconsider its proposal, though final plans have not been approved and a preservation outcome is not guaranteed.”
The buildings have been vacant since 2009. Other potential uses considered over the years have included offices and a community center. The school board voted in October not to move forward with administrators’ plan to tear down the 1950s buildings and construct a new one. Superintendent Xernona Thomas said recently that CCSD will renovate the old Gaines School for early learning classrooms instead, although a similar project remains on the table for West Broad.
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