Foundation completes acquisition of former Havre de Grace Colored School site

The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation has completed its acquisition of the former school building on Alliance Street.

The property was settled on late Monday morning in Bel Air, according to Patricia Cole, foundation committee chair.

The foundation had been working since early February with the nonprofit Community Projects of Havre de Grace Inc. to raise the money to purchase the building.

Cole could not attend the settlement but when contacted by phone, she was preparing to leave her Virginia home to attend a small afternoon celebration planned in the building, where a formal announcement would be forthcoming, she said.

The building, which had been renovated for medical offices, served as a segregated school for African-American children in the Havre de Grace area from 1910 to 1953. The foundation plans to convert it to a museum and cultural center.

The foundation had a contract to purchase the property from the family of the late Havre de Grace mayor Gunther Hirsch, which had put it on the market last year. The foundation agreed to pay off what amounted to a $153,000 mortgage on the property, Cole said earlier.

Settlement was originally scheduled for the previous Monday but was postponed for a week to give the foundation additional time for fundraising after the organization had obtained a $50,000 line of credit from Harford Bank to complete the acquisition.

The news was celebrated during the Havre de Grace City Council meeting Monday night.

Councilman Jason Robertson’s announcement of the closing was greeted with applause from the audience in the council chamber.

“This is just one [of] many steps to see that place come to fruition,” Robertson said.

Council President David Glenn read a note from Cole to the city into the record, which stated that “because of the generosity of the community we realized our goal.”

“Today the property is back in the hands of the community; on behalf of the Colored School Foundation, we thank you for your support, encouragement and for believing that this would and should happen,” Cole wrote. “We hope that we can continue to count on your support as we transition to the next phase, which will be developing the museum and the cultural center.”

Glenn encouraged the administration of Mayor William T. Martin to “continue to support them in any way possible on such a great endeavor.”

Martin emphasized the need, “now more than ever,” for continued financial support to establish the museum and cultural center and open it for the public.

He encouraged people to contact the foundation or Community Projects.

“The city is looking forward to partnering with them and making sure that everything they’ve done isn’t for nothing, that it’s going to come to fruition,” Martin said. “This is great news, and a lot of people had a hand in getting the colored high school back in the hands of the citizens, and I look forward to opening it up.”

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