COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After 18 months of campaigning for Claflin a huge step was made on Tuesday for the historic site's restoration.
Claflin was the first school made for African American students in Muscogee County. Friends of Historic Claflin in Columbus have been campaigning to keep the rich history of the site by restoring it. The president of the board of directors says they took a big step towards reaching that goal.
"We signed the lease today so we formalized our agreement with the city so we can now proceed to raise money to restore the building. So this gives us the authorization if you will to take action," John House said, President of the Board of Directors.
House says now that everything has been finalized with the lease, Friends of Historic Claflin must move forward in raising $10.5 million and more than $1 million will be needed by the end of 2016.
"This is history of Columbus doesn't matter who you are I think it is important for the community to maintain this heritage of this first school built for black children in Muscogee county," House said.
Claflin opened its doors in 1868 during a time when it was illegal to educate African Americans. William H Spencer was the school's first principal. Currently, the building is severely damaged from deteriorating over the years and is in desperate need of restoration
"Restoration of the community of our society is our goal. We just believe that it's time for us to do some positive things and reverse some of the negative characteristics of our culture," says Reverend Richard Jessie, Friends of Historic Claflin Executive Director of Restoration.
Donations are currently being accepted for the restoration of the Claflin and for the general operations of the organization spearheading the campaign.
Click here if you would like to donate to the historic Claflin School.