Oak trees, chain link fences and construction equipment surround the old Gulfport High School. The once empty 15th Street building is being restored so it can become part of the new federal courthouse complex.
J.C. Meek graduated from Gulfport High in 1943. Back then, the school didn't have many neighbors. Now, it's a focal point of the new courthouse. Meek looked at a 58-year-old picture of his school and compared it to the changes that are being made to it.
"It's going to change inside," he said. "It's not going to change outside."
At lunch, the class of '43 got together and started planning its 60-year reunion. Everybody at the planning meeting talked about how turning an empty school into a courthouse office building saved a lot of their memories.
"I think they did the right thing to save it," Charles Bailey said.
Meek said, "The nice part is it's going to look like the old school used to look when we were there."
David Etzold said renovating his school and making it a courthouse office complex is fine, "because we gave it a lot of wisdom when we were there. And they can use it in their judgment."
Restoration work of the one time high school and construction of the eight story courthouse tower should be done on Aug. 24, 2003. That's right about the same time Gulfport High's Class of '43 will hold its 60-year reunion.
The construction manager overseeing the federal courthouse project said workers have finished about 6 percent of the downtown Gulfport complex.