Historic Athens cries foul over West Broad School demolition

May 6, 2021

Historic Athens held a livestream on their Facebook page Wednesday to discuss the history of the West Broad Street school and the implications of the planned demolition of one of its buildings.

The Clarke County School District plans to use a Head Start grant to convert the West Broad Street School campus into an early learning center for children under the age of 4. Construction is planned to begin soon in order to meet a March 1, 2022 deadline and while the plan is to preserve and restore the oldest building on the campus — the 1938 Minor Street building — a 1958 building facing Campbell Lane is slated for demolition.

Historic Athens Executive Director Tommy Valentine opposes the building’s destruction and says that the building has historic value as one of the few remaining school buildings in Georgia from the 1950s “Equalization Era,” when Southern schools improved school facilities in an attempt to justify segregation. In a livestream which attracted around 50 people. Valentine contended that the March 1 deadline is an arbitrary and self-imposed one by the district, and urged listeners to contact the school board, the superintendent, and the Citizen's Oversight Committee to register complaints.

Valentine also expressed concern that the only preservation architect on the project resigned last week.