Historic African American schoolhouse in Gautier getting a face-lift

Updated: May. 15, 2018 at 9:52 PM CDT
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Board members approve renovations to the West Pascagoula Colored School (Photo Source: WLOX)
Board members approve renovations to the West Pascagoula Colored School (Photo Source: WLOX)

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A historical landmark in Gautier is getting a facelift. The West Pascagoula Colored School once served African American children in the community. Tuesday night, a big restoration project was approved.

"It means that we can show off the historical area of this community. We plan to have all the artifacts, which we have many in the community that are in private homes. I think we could have one of the finest museums on the Coast," said historian Leonard Fuller.

Board members approved a plan to have the outside of the one-room-building painted. Sherwin Williams will donate the paint, and community volunteers will help. The building sits in board member Casey Vaughn's ward. He said not just anyone can work on this historical landmark.

"You have to have certain contractors to do the work. They have to be state certified in historic preservation," Vaughn said. "You have to hand scrape the paint off... and sand it a certain way, and make sure it's prepared for historic preservation."

It's a big step forward for Gautier and this school. It was built in the 1920's, and African American children in the community got their education there for about 30 years. It's named after educator Earnestine Fountain.

"Earnestine Fountain was a remarkable person. Not only did she teach the children by book, but she taught them by example," said Historical Planning Commission Commissioner Rico Borrazzo.

The building also served as a voting precinct, a dance studio and more. In 2013, it was named one of the top 10 most endangered historical structures in the state. Grants were awarded, and phase one of the project wrapped up in 2015, that included a new roof and foundation to stabilize the building.

Members of the Gautier Historic Commission hope to have the house completed this year. It will serve as a museum and welcome center.

A start date for the painting hasn't been announced. If you're interested in helping, contact City Hall here.

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