Efforts continue to restore a historic school building in Meridian. Built in 1894, Wechsler School was the first brick building for black school children in Mississippi. Since the 1980's efforts have been underway to restore the structure into a community arts center. Eight years ago the estimated cost for restoration was $3,000,000. Because committee members say they have not been able to secure grant funding, they're now looking to the community for more help.
"It's going to take more than three or four people to save this historic building not only for the city, but for the entire state," says Wechsler Community Arts Center Committee Member, Adrian Cross.
"All we need is help from other people," says Reverend Greg Moore, who is also a member of the committee. "We don't care how much. We have monthly dues. You can pay $5 a month. You can pay $2 a month; you can pay 50 cents a year, but we need in involvement. We need finances. We need people to realize the historic value of this particular building, and then we'll be able to move forward and make this dream a reality."
Diana Kendricks is founder of the group, Queen B's. Her organization was the last one to use the building.
"It got to the point that we couldn't afford to stay here because the pigeons were coming in, the windows were getting broken out."
"Our youth have pulled together to help keep our playground clean, and also to manage to not allow people to destroy the building. So, that condition has improved," says Reverend Moore.
When it comes to refurbishing this building, committee members say the effort is important for many reasons, but especially because they feel that transforming the Wechsler Building will transform the entire community surrounding it.
"It would give students something to do," says Cross. "It would give adults a place to help raise our youth right, a place to help inspire some encouragement. We really need people to get involved because this could be a great endeavor for the entire city. We want this to be a building that everybody in the city can be proud of and use!"
The Wechsler Community Arts Center Committee is expected to meet late next month. More information about the group's effort can be found at the Wechsler Community Art Center Facebook page. You can also contact committee members at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (601) 485-8723.