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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cultural Center Proposed For Old Former All-Black School

JONESBOROUGH (Ben Ingram, NET News Service, from Kingsport Times-News) — According to Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes, discussions surrounding the future of the Booker T. Washington School building in Jonesborough, have progressed so far as to include a draft proposal for a new cultural center.


Dykes told Washington County Board of Education members Thursday that the town of Jonesborough is attempting to obtain ownership of the former school building in order to develop a cultural center and to create another venue to interpret the history of African-Americans in Jonesborough.
“I have met with (Town Administrator) Bob Browning and Jimmy Rhein, as well as Alderman Chuck Vest, about the Booker T. Washington School and turning it into an interpretive center for the town in partnership with the school system,” said Dykes, adding that the town had even discussed providing a van to transport Jonesborough students to the center.

“Because we have used Booker T. Washington as a storage facility, we would have to have some kind of compensation,” said school board Chairman Eric Barnes.
Barnes said discussions also included the possibility of the town building a new storage facility for the school system beside their present garage, located behind Jonesborough Elementary.
The plan also calls for the development of a Booker T. Washington Planning Committee that is made up of town staff, Heritage Alliance staff, and African-American members of the community.

Jonesborough wants to utilize the classroom space and gym space to develop a series of art enhancement opportunities for area students. Activity offerings could include the following:

• Art classes using Jonesborough artists.

• Storytelling classes.

• Theater classes.

• Heritage crafts and other craft opportunities.

• Dance and exercise activities.
• Language instruction.

• Gallery space to be able to display artwork produced by youth and adults.
Board members unanimously referred the proposal to the board’s facilities committee for further consideration.