Delaware county to help tell story of historic Black school
HOCKESSIN, Del. (AP) — New Castle County has partnered with a nonprofit that wants to preserve the history of one of Delaware’s schools for Black students that in the ’50s helped lead to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education court decision.
The County Council this week passed a resolution to partner with the Friends of Hockessin Colored School to turn the former Hockessin Colored School No. 107 into a “place of social impact, diversity and educational innovation.”
Hockessin Colored School #107C was the only school black children in the area could attend until the 1954 Brown v. Board ruling.
The school, built in 1920 and located on Mill Creek Road not far from the Pennsylvania state line, will be renovated and used as a place for historical education.
A memorandum of understanding will be formally signed by County Executive Matt Meyer at an event at the school “in the coming days,” according to a press release.
The agreement says New Castle County will pay two outstanding mortgages on the property, totaling $172,000, which will repay the Delaware Community Foundation’s African American Empowerment Fund that helped save the building from sheriff’s sale in 2012, along with private donors.
That mortgage payment is due by the end of 2020, and the funding for it is included in the approved budget for fiscal year 2021, according to the agreement.
Before the 2012 sale, the school had been vacant since 2008, when a renovation project was started and abandoned after the Hockessin Community Center, which owned it at the time, ran out of money.
Friends of Hockessin Colored School will design and construct all the renovations to the school and partner with Trust for Public Lands to fundraise for the school’s operational and capital budgets. Their goal is to raise $1.5 million to establish permanent operations at the site.
The county will also be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and the structures on the property, as well as chipping in for other operating expenses on the 6-acre property.
“This building will be preserved for future generations to learn and understand our country’s and our county’s ugly history of injustice, while also serving as a monument to the hard-fought battles of the civil rights movement and the work still left to be done,” Meyer said in a press release.