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Effort underway to preserve Havre de Grace Colored High School site

An effort is underway to preserve the former Havre de Grace Colored High School building on Alliance Street, which has been put up for sale.
An effort is underway to preserve the former Havre de Grace Colored High School building on Alliance Street, which has been put up for sale. (Bobby Parker for The Record / Baltimore Sun)

Built during Harford County's long era of segregated education, the Havre de Grace Colored High School became the first school in the area for teaching African-American students through 11th grade.

Now local community leaders want to preserve building at Alliance and Stokes streets, which dates to 1910, and find ways to maintain the property's legacy.

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The public is invited to attend a meeting at 10:30 a.m. on March 26 at the former high school, at 555 Alliance St.

The preservation effort is being spearheaded by the leaders of the Hosanna School Museum in Darlington, the site of the first public school in Harford County for African-Americans.

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The former Havre de Grace school building is owned by Dahlia Hirsch and has functioned as a doctor's office, Patricia Cole, a board member for the Hosanna School Museum and a project manager for the perseveration initiative, said Tuesday. The property is on the market.

"The Hirsches have owned it for a number of years and they attempted to preserve it the best they could," Cole said. Dahlia Hirsch's father, Dr. Gunther Hirsch, who died last year, was mayor of Havre de Grace and president of the Harford County Council and had a long career as a physician in the city.

"We are trying to see if someone can assist us in obtaining the place, although the price is pretty steep," Cole said.

The school building offers a total of 6,400 square feet and is available for "eco-tourism, education in the arts and cultural preservation," the Hosanna School Museum said in an announcement. "There is an urgent need for people interested in preserving history to support the adaptive reuse of the building for economically viable activities."

Cole said her father attended the school, graduating in 1949. The school closed in 1953, when Havre de Grace Consolidated School in Oakington opened with grades 6 to 12 for African-American students in southern Harford at a single location. Segregation in Harford's public schools ended in the fall of 1965.

"The Hirsch family really took great efforts to maintain the historical integrity of the building," Cole said, explaining the building could be some type of community center or business.

Preserving the building "was a huge goal because African-Americans only went up to the eighth grade, so it's a big accomplishment that they went up to the 11th grade" at the Colored High School, she said.

Anyone interested in attending is asked to contact the Hosanna School Museum, 410-457-4161 or cchavis@hosannaschoolmuseum.org by March 20.

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