New Lessons in an Old School

New Lessons in an Old School
By:  Arnold Wyrick
Carbondale, IL - The year was 1919 and a Carbondale school principal by the name of W.B. Lewis envisioned a school house for African-Americans. Lewis and four of his teachers at the time started Attuck's School. But it wasn't until 1948 when they finally got a building located on East Walnut Street.
Carbondale schools were segregated, and only African-Americans attended classes at Attuck's Community High School. The last class to graduate from the school was in 1964.
For the past two decades the old school house has sat empty and decaying. But that's about to change thanks to a unanimous decision by the Carbondale City Council. They've decided to lease the old building to the African-American Museum in Carbondale.
"So this is the only part of the history that we have left, that the African-American students went to. And it is important to preserve this history," says Councilwoman Corene McDaniel.
But bringing the old school house back to live won't be easy, or cheap.
" We're looking at $700,000.00 to $800,000.00 to renovate the building. This may sound like a lot of money. But how much does history cost?" McDaniel said.
Once it's all said and done though McDaniel pointed out that there would be much more then just the African-American Museum inside the old school house.
"Our vision is it will become a community center for arts. That we would encourage other organizations to come in. The building is more then what we need. And by making it a community center then we would be able to offer space to other organizations even if they had nothing to do with art," McDaniel said.
The fundraising efforts for the renovation of Attuck's School gets underway this weekend in Carbondale. That's where a Soul Food Dinner will be served on Saturday, from 4pm to 7pm at the Eurma C. Hayes building.