Jacksonville restoring historical Eastwood High

May 23—The city of Jacksonville and the Parks and Playgrounds Committee are seeking donors to help repurpose and rebuild Eastwood High School, which Black students attended during the segregation era.

Seeing historical value in the school's past, city officials and a group of five Jacksonville area residents are going "all-in" on seeing the project through, according to Jacksonville City Councilman Terry Wilson.

"The mayor and the City Council are all in on this," Wilson told The Anniston Star. "They see how important it is taking care of our history, and also enable us to have that history help us with tomorrow."

The school, which has lain dormant for over 10 years, has fallen into disrepair. It was founded in 1885 and moved to its current site on Gardner Drive in 1941. Once segregation was outlawed, the last senior class of the school graduated in 1968. The facility was then used as a daycare until 2012, when the doors were shut until present day.

The Parks and Playgrounds Committee was appointed approximately a year ago to assess different areas of the city with regard to improving community facilities, according to Wilson. That committee took on the Eastwood School in an effort to transform the space to a new community center that will host much-needed recreational facilities for the eastern part of the city. A gymnasium, playgrounds, ball fields, and an 18-hole disc golf course, among other features, will be installed so that local residents have a place to enjoy recreation while honoring a legacy that has been in place for over 100 years.

As Wilson put it, the school is a vital part of "who Jacksonville is."

"Over the years, a lot of civic leaders have come out of [Eastwood], a lot of successful business people, doctors and lawyers," Wilson said. "It's just a special part of the history of Jacksonville."

Though the city and the committee have many plans for the building, the main goal, Wilson said, is to save the building.

"There were a few years there where no one knew whether the University owned it or the city owned it," Wilson said. "After we got that cleared up, and this committee appointed, they wanted to move forward in trying to see what can be done."

Wilson mentioned at the council meeting Monday night that the school needed to be cleaned out of debris and old desks and things prior to the commercial contractors' arrival in about two weeks.

"It's moving faster," Wilson told the council. "It's an exciting time, and a lot of people are getting really excited about it."

Currently, there are many naming opportunities for those who would like to donate funds to the restoration goal.

— Name the building — $500,000

— Parking lot — $400,000

— Gymnasium — $100,000

— Gym floor — $50,000

— Office — $20,000

— Baseball field — $100,000

— Classrooms (8) — $10,000

— Kitchen — $50,000

— Donor plaques — $25 to $500

However, Wilson said these figures are not set into stone. Some donors may give funds for a new roof, some may split their donations and give money to remodel the gym with extra funds donated towards resurfacing the parking lot.

"Whatever people designate and what they want, that's where the money will go," Wilson said. "That's more logistics that we're working out."

Wilson said that some business entities and individuals have already "shown interest," in seeing the project through, pledging to give money or help with fundraising.

Contact Parks and Playgrounds Committee for more information on how to support the project at 256-435-7611.

Staff Writer Ashley Morrison: 256-236-1551. On Twitter: @AshMorrison1105.