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With grant, Wechsler hopes to enrich community

By Staff
WECHSLER COMMUNITY CENTER n Meridith Donald, foreground, Ollie Sykes and Fredna Lewis, members of Wechsler Community Arts Center Association, received a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for $385,000 to help restore the site. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 14, 2001
With a $385,000 grant, Wechsler Community Arts Center Association is hoping to transform the historic Wechsler School into a facility for use by all Meridian residents.
The Wechsler School, located between 15th Street and 30th Avenue, was the first black school in Mississippi to be built with bond money. It was established in 1894 and is on the Mississippi Historical Register and the National Historic Register.
The grant was awarded through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as part of the state agency's African-American heritage preservation program.
Members of the association want to eventually turn the bottom floor of the school into a museum, and the group plans to offer tutorial programs that can be shared by the entire community.
According to Sykes, the majority of the grant money will be spent on brick and mortar repairs to the outside of the building. The group is working to raise additional monies for inside renovation project.
Archives and History awarded $2.8 million on Monday for 16 selected revitalization projects. The Wechsler grant was the single largest.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.