By Alyssa Schnugg
The Gordon Community and Cultural Center and the old Head Start building, formerly known as the Abbeville School, will be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On Nov. 18, the Mississippi Department of Archive and History voted unanimously to place the property on the National Register.
In June, the property received a Historical Landmark designation from the MDAH.
Both designations open up opportunities to receive grants to help to continue renovations at the community center and begin renovations of the old Head Start building. It also provides some protection to prevent the buildings from being demolished.
The now-Gordon Community and Cultural Center and the old Head Start building, located at 35 County Road 115, were once schools for the black children of Lafayette County before integration was mandated.
More than 12 years ago, a group of Abbeville and Lafayette County citizens decided to begin efforts to restore the abandoned Abbeville School buildings.
In September, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with applying for a grant to help with renovating the old Head Start building in Abbeville.
The board agreed to apply for a grant from the Mississippi Department of History and Archives jointly with the Gordon Community and Cultural Center Board of Directors. The grant, if approved, would come from federal funds.
“We’re now waiting to see if we get the Preservation Grant,” said Janice Carr, who sits on the Gordon Community and Cultural Center Board of Directors,
The school was built in 1949 and opened to students in January 1950 for grades first through eighth.
A second building was built a few years later for ninth through 12th grades. In the 1960s, a third building was built for grades first through sixth and the original building served as a middle school for seventh and eighth-grade students.
When schools were integrated in the late 1960s, the Abbeville School was closed and its students were transferred to the public schools in Oxford.
The school stood deserted for more than 40 years. In the 1970s, the state opened up a Head Start school in the newer of the three buildings. It shut down years later and moved to Oxford where it is now the Mary Cathey Head Start. The second building that served as the high school was demolished in the 1980s.
In 2014, the doors were finally reopened to educate students with the formation of Abbeville School Educational Summer Enrichment Camp.
The Gordon Community and Cultural Center Board hopes to turn the old Head Start building into a trade school for adults in the fields of carpentry, electrical and plumbing.
Anyone wishing to donate to the GCCC can mail checks to the Gordon Community and Cultural Center, Inc., P.O. Box 42, Abbeville, MS 38601. For more information, contact Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dale Timothy Gordon at email@example.com.