State grant to fund upgrades at Wechsler School

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star 

The Wechsler School received a $277,154 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to complete interior and exterior work on the building.

The Wechsler School in Meridian is one step closer to reopening to the public. 

The Wechsler Foundation received a $277,154 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to complete interior and exterior work on the building. The Community Heritage Preservation Grant program, authorized and funded by the Mississippi Legislature, helps preserve and restore historic courthouses and schools in Certified Local Government communities and other historic properties. 

Erected in 1894, the school was the first brick school for African American children in Mississippi to be built with public money.

Edward Lynch, president of the Wechsler Foundation, said the grant money will be used for repairs on the 1951 portion of the building. The upgrades include work on the kitchen, auditorium and classrooms.

In 2016, the foundation received a $175,000 grant from MDAH which was used to replace the roof on the part of the building added in 1951, Lynch said. 

In March 2018, the foundation received a $500,000 National Park Service Civil Rights grant to make repairs to the auditorium.

With the combination of funding, Lynch said the historic building is closer to reopening. 

There are plans to turn the former school into a community center. 

“We are excited about it,” Lynch said.

Other grants include:

•House on Ellicott’s Hill, Natchez, Adams County—$210,400, for the restoration of the front gallery of the building.

•Natchez City Hall, Natchez, Adams County—$157,056, for replacement of the roof.

•Corinth Coliseum Theater, Corinth, Alcorn County—$236,234, for replacement of the roof and ADA upgrades.

•Chickasaw County Courthouse, Houston, Chickasaw County—$226,677 for repairs to the roof and other interior repairs.

•G.L. Hawkins Elementary, Hattiesburg, Forrest County—$35,200, for roof repairs.

•Franklin County Courthouse, Meadville, Franklin County—$144,388, for window and masonry restoration, and reroofing of the jail.

•(Old) Monticello Elementary, Monticello, Lawrence County—$40,000 to be used or structural repairs and asbestos report and abatement.

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