Thursday, October 18, 2012
The etching above the door still reads “George Washington Carver Grade School,” though if you peel apart the overgrown brush in front of the wood sign in the yard, you will see the building’s most recent title: “George Washington Carver Library, Museum and Memorial.”
Fulton’s historically segregated elementary school turns 75 this year with its doors locked and its foundation crumbling, threatening to take an important piece of local African American history with it.
“Right now we’re sort of at a standstill,” said Arneda Logan, Carver Memorial board member. “We’ve been trying to get grants but they’re not out there. We need a lot of renovation and work done to be able to (reopen,) so we really haven’t done much of anything lately.”
The school, formerly listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was erected in November 1937 as a school for black children during the nation’s segregation era. Featured at the dedication was George Washington Carver, renowned botanist known for his peanut research. The school continued to serve Callaway’s students following the ban of school segregation until it was closed in 1989. A few years later, the building was purchased by the Carver Memorial Board, which used the building as a museum, activity center and community resource, but building disrepair has forced them to close their doors.
Logan said preserving the school was important because it was a part of her personal history, as well as Fulton’s African American history. Logan graduated 8th grade from the school in 1948, and later on served as its secretary. She also said that the Memorial had put on fish fries and other fundraisers in the past, but grants were needed to take care of the foundation.
“The foundation is going to cost so much money that a fish fry or barbecue (wouldn’t cover it,) because it’s going to cost in the thousands of dollars,” she said.