New support for old school building - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New support for old school gym

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – There's a possibility that a piece of Brunswick County history might be torn down soon. The old gymnasium on Lord Street in Southport dates back to Brunswick High School in the 1960's. The problem is, it's falling apart and can no longer be used by the public.

Brunswick Community College owns the property. The city recently was contacted by the college to see if there were interest in taking over the facility.

One option being considered is knocking down the building, which isn't sitting well with some Brunswick County High School alumni.

Several alumni members are rallying together on an effort to save one of their high school memories.

For more than 50 years, the building has stood as an important landmark in the African American community in Southport.  For those who went to that school, it's more than just a gym, it is a place where memories were made and to see this place torn down would be devastating for them.

Donnie Joyner, George McCracken and Howard Lee Jr. have a lot of memories from the old gymnasium. Those three attended Brunswick County High School back in the 1960's when the school was called the Brunswick County Training School. At the time, the county didn't have enough money to pay for the gym, so it took a community effort to raise the money by selling donuts on the street.

"Krispy Kreme made a good fortune off of us," said Joyner. "If you didn't sell donuts, you didn't belong here."

George McCracken actually laid the brickwork that still remains today.

"I started working in 9th grade laying bricks and pouring cement," said McCracken.

Back in the sixties, the gym was the main meeting place for the African American community.

But now, the gym is no longer safe to use. The city of Southport and BCC are working on possible options.

Joyner says the alumni association will do everything they can to save the old gym.

"It's going to be a community effort," said Joyner. "The same as when we built it."

The city of Southport and BCC have formed a task force along with the alumni association to discuss potential options on the future of this building. Ultimately, any final decision lies in the hands of the city. According to Mayor Robert Howard, any involvement would be through lease, rather than purchase. A final decision is expected to be made in the next few months.

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