We are currently seeking artifacts for the Eureka School Museum. If you have historical items that you think may be pertinent in telling the story of the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg, including the time periods leading up to and following this period, please contact Latoya Norman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 601.268.3220 for more information.
The restoration of Historic Eureka School will involve a phased building renovation for the purpose of reusing the building as an African American Heritage and Cultural Museum and interpretive center for the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the activities of Freedom Summer 1964.
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The Historic Eureka School was designated as a Mississippi landmark in 2005 and serves as a focal point of history and heritage for African Americans in the Hattiesburg community. When it opened in 1921, it was one of only two brick high schools for African Americans in the state.
The Eureka High School was constructed on the site of the first school in Hattiesburg for African Americans -- “the red frame school on East 6th Street.” In the 1919-20 school term, a $75,000 bond issue provided for construction of the new building for grades 1 through 12. The school opened in September 1921 in what was said to be the second modern, brick facility in Mississippi for education of African Americans. The school was dedicated with the name Eureka in lieu of any community consensus for another name.
Eureka was a union school housing grades 1 through 12 from 1921 to 1949, where W.H. Jones was the first principal. As many who attended Eureka have said, Eureka was not only a union school, it was the unifying element and most significant educational and social resource of the African American community during the 1921-49 period. Student enrollment grew from approximately 800 students in 1940 to 1,400 students in 1947. This overcrowding was relieved in 1949 with the opening of the new Royal Street – later named Rowan – High School. Eureka School Administrators included J.W. Addison, E.L. Washburn, Edward Tademy, N.R. Burger, Jessie Patrick, Hollie Leggett, Della Ruth Jones and Stave Weathersby.
Eureka continued as an elementary school until 1987. Under a new desegregation plan for elementary schools approved at that time, the Eureka campus was closed as an elementary school and became a Community Education Center. As such, Eureka housed a variety of education programs, including adult and community education, as well as a number of district services. Clara Weathersby was the director of the center. A portion of the space at Eureka was devoted to the sole use of EURO, the Eureka-Royal Street-Rowan Alumni Association, which maintains a Heritage Room there today.
The Community Education Center was closed in the mid-1990s, but other educational organizations such as HELP, an adult education and literacy program, and a computer training program continued to operate there. The EURO Alumni Association funded the first adaptive reuse plan for the building in the late 1990’s. In addition, EURO sponsored the placement of a state historical marker on the campus.