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Marva Dunn

President of Citizens United for the Greensville County Training School McKinley Jordan recently addressed the Greensville County Board of Supervisors on behalf of the Greensville County Training School.

Jordan thanked the Board for its support. He said that they are constantly working on the project. Debris has been removed form the site. Sand has been delivered which would be used to build up the area that would be recognized as the outdoor park. Once the sand work has been completed the floor on the park will begin. Jordan also noted that the roof has been replaced, and the building now has access to electricity and they have begun the process to have the water turned on.

The Greensville County Training School is a historic school building. GCTS was built in 1929.

It began with two wings that connect and contained classrooms, with an auditorium, office space and library. It became one of the largest Rosenwald schools across the south during the early twentieth century. The Greensville County School’s four year curriculum was accredited and an additional building was constructed. Its purpose was for the education of African-American students. The school closed in the 1960s following desegregation of public schools. GCTS also functioned as the center of Emporia’s African American community and housed meetings of the local NAACP chapter, among other activities. The school was scheduled to be demolished by the city of Emporia, however that didn’t sit well with local resident of the community Marva Dunn, whose Mother Della Richardson attended the school.

“I am doing this in memory of my Mama who walked miles and miles in the cold, snow and rain to Greensville County Training School trying to get her high school diploma,” said Dunn.

The Citizens United to Preserve the Greensville County Training School had something else in mind. Dunn along with McKinley Jordan presented their case to City Council to preserve the school.

The organization teamed up with local community members, contractors, architects, and the Storefront for Community Design in Richmond and students from Virginia Commonwealth to the vision —a future for the structure that uplifts Emporia’s current community, while honoring the school’s past.

The structure of the school has great potential for renovation not an enclosed garden or park. Intended as a community gathering place, plans for the space include an outdoor picnic area with tables, a garden, as well as an outdoor stage for weddings, concerts, performances to a name a few.

There is also two small buildings that will be converted to serve as a meeting place for church groups, community organizations, cultural and educational activities, and other social events. The historical artifacts that are found from the training school will also be on display.

The ongoing effort to preserve the school has been steady, but there is still much more work to be done.

The group cannot build space for the community without its combined efforts. The project committee holds fundraisers throughout the year to help fund the project including a black and white affair, annual gospel concert and a fish fry.

The fish fry plate will include fish, coleslaw, hush puppies and bake beans for $8. The fundraiser is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday Aug. 9. For more information about the fundraiser or to place an order, contact Jordan (434) 634-1043, Keith Prince (434) 637-1397 or Dunn (434) 348-3122.