SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - A familiar, historic, and significant building in Salisbury that served as a school for the African-American community will be preserved, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service.
Livingstone College owns the former Samuel E. Duncan School building on Monroe Street. Currently in a state of disrepair, the 1923 era building was built specifically as a high school for African-Americans.
“Preserving the Monroe Street School is the next logical step for this historic property,” Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins said. “The significance of the history of the building, the architectural design, and the physical location in the West End community is a visual reminder of the history and the progress of the city in race relations and the cultural significance of the African-American contributions to the city.”
Its description on the National Register of Historic Places describes the school as “providing public education for African Americans during the 1920s. The building was constructed across the street from the campus of Livingstone College, an African Methodist Episcopal Zion college, and was originally named J. C. Price High School, in honor of the college’s first president. The name was changed to Monroe Street School in 1931, when a larger facility serving exclusively as an African American high school was opened in Salisbury and given the name, Price High School. Monroe Street School played a pivotal role in the academic life of the city’s African American students until 1971 when it underwent full racial integration. Now called the Samuel E. Duncan Education Center of Livingstone College, the vacant building is undergoing rehabilitation for the school’s teacher training program.”
“Between the construction of J. C. Price High School in 1932, and complete racial integration in 1971, Monroe Street School was one of three African American public schools in Salisbury. The third facility was Lincoln School, a much smaller, one-story, brick elementary school that opened in the Dixonville neighborhood in the 1920s.”
The grant is part of $14 million in African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund that will finance 51 projects across 20 states and the District of Columbia to preserve sites and history related to the African-American struggle for equality in the 20th Century, according to the National Park Service.
The grant will be used to stabilize deterioration, preserve the structure and repurpose the building, including securing an engineer’s assessment and an architect’s design; repairing the roof, windows and doors; removing trash and debris inside and out; and abating environmental concerns, according to Livingstone College.