DeKalb County’s First Public School for Black Students Is On The Rise To Preservation

DeKalb County’s First Public School for Black Students Is Closer To Preservation

Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance

Community leaders seek public input for the anticipated preservation of DeKalb County’s first public school for Black students in Lithonia, Georgia. Two meetings will be held to stimulate ideas and engagement in shaping the historic site’s future.

The ruins of the Bruce Street School (also called the Lithonia Colored School, Lithonia Negro School, and the Old School Building) date back to the 1930s, while the current school structure dates back to 1938, as per the Arabia Alliance. The first graduating high school class included only three pupils from around 1943.

When the school closed in 1968, there were over a dozen elementary and eight high school classrooms. Although several outbuildings were lost to a fire, the granite walls built by quarry workers still stand today.

Historic Bruce Street School (Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance)

According to OCG News, DeKalb County, the City of Lithonia, and the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance have been working collaboratively for months to shape the space’s conceptual design process.

The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving the natural, scenic, cultural, and historic resources within the Heritage Area, is leading the effort to revitalize the site. They have retained Martin Rickles Studio, an Atlanta-based interdisciplinary design studio, to host community engagement sessions.

The ruins of the Bruce Street School. (Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance)

The alliance has provided funding along with DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson to proceed with the project.

The final two meetings for community feedback are scheduled at the Lithonia Woman’s Club, 2564 Wiggins Street, 1-4 p.m. on April 24 and May 7.

Community members are invited to attend the first session, a presentation by the Design Team, and that feedback will help shape a more solid design scheme. The second session will call for additional input.

The final conceptual design will wrap up in June.