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By Nicky Zizaza
/ CBS Baltimore
BALTIMORE — A once-segregated elementary school in west Baltimore is in the process of transforming into Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center.
The aging structure in the Upton neighborhood will soon become a place with various cultural activities and programs.
The 150-year-old building is getting a makeover to honor the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who attended the school in 1914.
Dr. Alvin Hathaway, who has spent his life serving his church and community and after years of pastoring the Reverend, is directing his efforts into community revitalization.
The two-story building has been abandoned since the 1990s and most recently withstood a fire that nearly destroyed it.
Many people in the African American community remember the landmark building as Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School, also known as P.S. 103.
Despite the buildings crumbling exterior, Dr. Hathaway said the structure is not done serving the Upton neighborhood.
“This building is significant in that it was the birthplace of the brains and the academic preparation of Thurgood Marshall,” said Dr. Hathaway.
Hathaway said he was willing to go to great lengths to save one of the city’s most historic schools.
“In 2019, my team won the award to redevelop the school,” Dr. Hathaway said. “I had a whole African American team, I had Mahogany construction, Sutton Campbell Britt as architects”
With the help of a handpicked team, Hathaway said he got to work.
Jeff Hargrave, CEO of Mahogany Construction, was among a handful of people tasked to see the project through.
“When Dr. Hathaway came at me and said we would like you to be our contractor, I mean for a minority contractor that just doesn’t happen a whole lot of times,” Hargrave said.
In addition to federal, state and local tax credits, the preservation project sparked financial support too.
“I knew that Bank of America really wanted to be a part of it, we seek to invest in anchor institutions in neighborhoods that will help in revitalization efforts,” said Janet Currie, President of Bank of America, Greater Maryland.
Plans for the building involve transforming the building into an interactive space with a host of exhibits, including legal support services, job placement, plus a recreation of the late U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings campaign office.
“This community is a community that has many challenges but one of the blessings that this project will show is that you are able to overcome so you are walking in a land of giants,” said Dr. Hathaway.
Dr. Hathaway said the center will open next year and plans are also underway to make the building a national landmark.
Nicky Zizaza joined WJZ in July 2022. She anchors the 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. newscasts with Rick Ritter.
First published on February 1, 2023 / 2:15 PM
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©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.