February 23, 2012
The Jefferson School first opened its doors in 1865. More than 150 years later, the historic Charlottesville landmark is being renovated.
First Baptist Church on West Main Street will host an exhibit next week previewing what can be expected inside the new Jefferson School City Center. But, members of the media got a peek into the future on Thursday.
CBS19 toured a wing of the old Jefferson School built in the 1920s. It included an auditorium, classrooms and hallways. Post-renovation, those rooms will keep the school’s history alive as an African-American Heritage Center.
“Essentially what you are seeing is a history that marks post-emancipation,” said Andrea Douglas, executive director for the Heritage Center. “We’re telling that history certainly through the lives of African-Americans, but we are also telling a history of Charlottesville.”
The Heritage Center will include a genealogy wing, a temporary exhibition to display case art and an auditorium for lectures and films.
The city center will also be home to Piedmont Virginia Community College classes, a Jefferson Area Board for Aging senior center, a YMCA early childhood development program and a Martha Jefferson Hospital wellness center.
The preview hosted by First Baptist will include photos of what the rooms look like now and design pictures of what they will look like once construction is completed.
“We have spent the last three years researching the story, collecting artifacts and putting together a scholar team that will help us talk about the Jefferson School; not just as a location on Fourth and Commerce, but how the school was impactful to education,” said Douglas.
The exhibit presentation will be at First Baptist Church on West Main Street on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. If all goes according to plan, the transformation from Jefferson School to Jefferson City Center will be complete by fall 2012.
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