Conway leaders to talk proposal for historic Whittemore Elementary School
CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Members of Conway City Council are set to discuss the first proposal on what to do with the historic Whittemore Elementary School on Monday.
The city spared Whittemore earlier this year when it decided to take proposals to save the school rather than demolish it. The school opened to African American students in 1954 and is notable for being one of the only all-Black schools in South Carolina prior to integration.
The Whittemore Racepath Historical Society, a group that formed last year to save the school from demolition, is now putting its ideas on the table.
The nonprofit wants to renovate the school’s main building into an African American Gullah Geechee Museum. The 19,500-square-foot building would also include space for theater, music and business opportunities.
Meanwhile, the 10,000-square-foot gymnasium would be renovated into a community space for gatherings and use for senior citizen activities.
President of the Whittemore Racepath Historical Society Cheryl Moore Adamson said even though they would give the school a new purpose, their main goal is preserving its history.
“Our aim is to resurrect this building for the edification of our people in the community so that people can learn about our history,” she said. “And we’ll have something to point our children to about where we came from.”
However, the organization is not only proposing renovating the existing buildings but also constructing an apartment complex.
The proposal shares its plans to design a four-building apartment complex that would include 120 units, 200 parking spaces, a picnic area and a walking trail.
Adamson said this unique part of the proposal is to take advantage of the space and further help the community.
“We want to be able to do what has not been done in our community for quite a while and that is providing safe and affordable housing for the people who make our community what it is,” said Adamson.
The proposed project is estimated to cost $15.9 million. The building was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and was condemned in 2020.
Former students, community members and the Whittemore Racepath Historical Society have fought to save the school ever since.
The Conway City Council meeting is set to begin at 4 p.m. Monday.
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