GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Turkey Creek community is working to restore a piece of its history.
Volunteers spent the morning Saturday cleaning graffiti from the walls of the Turkey Creek Head Start Building.
Pictures show the then, and the now is a drastic change.
Vandals have left their mark on virtually every wall of the decades-old building. Shattered windows and many of the walls and parts of the ceiling will need serious repairs.
“I remember playing out here in the yard. I remember the smell of the cafeteria; it’s just history," said Michael White, who attended Head Start in the building.
“It’s just a shame that the school look the way it look. It’s sad," he said.
Much of White’s family history is on the building’s grounds, going back to the 1800s.
Derrick Evans is an expert on that history.
“For over a hundred years, this is where all the schools that served the African American communities and in Harrison County, were built here on Grandma Benton’s land. This is Grandma’s Benton’s land; she bought it out of slavery,” he said.
Saturday, members of the Turkey Creek community and volunteers started the work to revamp the historic building with the goal of getting it back in use, possibly as a community center.
“We have so many kids that can benefit from it. Even tutoring, after school camps can be a blessing to them,” said Evelyn Caldwell.
Though the building has seen much better days, they said it will take much more to destroy its history and its significance to Turkey Creek.
“It’s not something we can’t handle. I mean we’ve seen Hurricane Katrina, we’ve seen all kinds of stuff," Evans said. “It’s a great place. I mean, we can all see past through all this stuff on the walls, we can see a glorious past and a glorious future.”
The Turkey Creek Head Start was one of the hardest hit during Hurricane Katrina.