Columbus group raising money to restore old Claflin School - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus group raising money to restore old Claflin School

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

It's a building in Columbus that is steeped in history and cultural significance. But these days, it's an old school that's really falling into a state of disrepair.

News Leader 9's Dante Renzulli spoke to a local church leader who is fighting to preserve the Claflin School.

The old Claflin School has been closed for years, and while it has been allowed to fall into ruin, it was once a bastion of educational freedom and social change in Columbus. The building has sentimental value for many who worked and attended school there, and people like the Reverend Richard Jessie want to make sure it stays in the right hands.

"We want to restore it, and we want it to be a place where people can come and learn about the history, the heritage, and the contributions that blacks made to this city."

Right now, the building is in danger of being turned over to the federal government, and from there, it could be sold to a developer who may change it into just about anything. That leads some to fear that the structure's rich history may be forgotten.

"When I think back and I think about it, when I walked through there today, I could feel some of the spirit of what I enjoyed back in the sixties. And I wonder sometimes, if I had not been involved and got a chance to enjoy some of the programs they offer, would I have turned out to be the type of person I am today?"

Some of the initial estimates of what it will take to restore the building call for several million dollars. Reverend Jessie's group has been given six months to raise that amount.

"If we cannot galvanize the community, if we cannot put a plan together to restore this building and make it self-supporting, it needs to go back. And I'm saying that to Columbus, Georgia. If we do not take advantage of this moment, turn to God and trust him, and do what we need to do, it needs to go back."

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