Charlotte Museum of History given $50,000 to restore, preserve, move old school building

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Surrounded by modern apartments sits an old structure, the Siloam School, which is noticeably out of place in Charlotte’s University City neighborhood.

The panels are falling off, the wood is chipping, but it has weathered the test of time and holds a deep historical significance.

The Siloam School was one of thousands built to educated back children across the segregated South.

Watch the video above as education reporter Elsa Gillis visited the old school in University City for a peek at its past and a glimpse of its future.

"This is a school that was built in the 1920s and it was specifically for African-American children,” said Adria Focht, with the Charlotte Museum of History.

The building was funded and built by an African-American church community in northeast Charlotte.

It's now one of a fraction still standing.

"In slavery times, African-Americans were forbidden to read, and write and people worked hard as communities to make up for lost time,” community historian Tom Hanchett said.

The effort to save the school, led by the Charlotte Museum of History, got a major boost Thursday in the form of $50,000 from the city of Charlotte.

The goal is to restore the school to what it used to look like, and move it to the Charlotte Museum of History where children and adults from all over can visit and learn its history.

“Not only is it an artifact of Charlotte’s history and specifically of its African-American heritage, which is largely underrepresented in terms of preservation, but it also representation this national history both of segregation and also of racial integration,” Focht said.

"Whether we’re longtime Charlotteans, whether we’re black, whether we’re white, whether we come from a different part of the world, this is part of what makes this place special,” Hanchett said.

The Charlotte Museum of History officials said relocating and preserving the school is the last resort to save it.

Ideally, museum officials said they would like to keep it where it is, but it's not accessible to the public.

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