Tulane Grant to Aid Revival of Abandoned School Buildings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tulane University in New Orleans says researchers from its School of Architecture have been awarded a $15,000 grant to assist in designing new uses for African American schools in Louisiana that were abandoned in the wake of school desegregation.

In a news release, the university said the biennial Richard L. Blinder Award, will allow researchers to work with alumni of the schools in designing reuse strategies for the buildings. According to the university, the mid-20th century structures were originally constructed as last-ditch efforts to protect segregation by providing “separate but equal” facilities for Black students.

Many were closed after schools were desegregated, the release said.

“For many years, these mid-century African American school buildings have sat vacant, many preferring they be forgotten and their history silenced,” said Laura Blokker, interim director of the Preservation Studies program at Tulane. Blokker and Andrew Liles, assistant professor of architecture, received the grant.

The award was given through the Trustees of the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, which Blinder, an architect, served as president.

The project leaders aim to identify as many as possible of the surviving buildings. A team will identify potential new uses for the buildings and outline preservation and design recommendations.

“A meeting of stakeholders from across the state will be convened to brainstorm about potential uses of schools in different communities,” the university release said. “Some of the ideas that have been discussed include community centers and senior housing facilities.”

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