Restoration efforts continue for historic Claflin School

Restoration efforts continue for historic Claflin School

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Sitting quiet with broken windows and crumbling walls is the sad state of one historic Columbus building.

You can see blankets and clothes belonging to homeless people have used the building for shelter, resting on entry ways, but those looking to restore the building say they will soon need to find another place to call home.

"Opened in 1868, the first school for former slaves," said Reverend Richard Jessie, Executive Director of Renovations.

Rundown, and resting in ruins, the glory days of the historic Claflin school may seem over, but one Columbus group continues to fight to restore it, saying the history made behind these walls cannot be forgotten.

"You can just imagine coming from a period where it was illegal to educate blacks to a point where this was really the finest school in Columbus," said Jessie.

Half the battle Reverend Jessie explains was convincing the council to give them the time and opportunity to patch the building up, making it bigger and better than ever.

"It sends a message to the community, that we value the things in the past," said Natasha David Walker with the Friends of Historic Claflin. However now the group is looking towards the future.

Over the last few months Jessie and the Friends of Historic Claflin have organized a game plan, including a laundry list of projects to get the building looking more like it was in the 1800's, and less of a haunted house.

"The value of it now is around $400,000, we have an estimate that when we are finished with it, it will be worth between eight and ten million dollars," said Jessie.

The damage to the outside of the Claflin school can be seen by any passer-by, but those working to restore it say there are dangers on the inside.

"We know there are toxins in this building, we have lead and asbestos," said Jessie, but while the repairs may seem daunting to some, his group is ready to tackle them .

The group hopes to restore the building to an educational center, and encourages everyone to come out to the City Council meeting on September 8th at 9 a.m. to show their support for the project.

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