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Historic Fayetteville School May Have A Date With Wrecking Ball

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FAYETTEVILLE — Washington Drive Junior High School in Fayetteville played an important part in school integration, but it could soon have a date with a wrecking ball.

It may not look like much on the outside, but to Donald LaHuffman, the rusty, abandoned school building contains childhood memories. The building used to be the former E.E. Smith High School. LaHuffman says it played an important part in Fayetteville integration, and that is why he wants it saved.

"I attended junior high school here when it was Washington Drive Junior High School," he says. "It has a very historic import to the Afro-American community in Cumberland County."

The problem is the county now leases the land to the Windows of Opportunity Vocational Training Center. The lease runs out this fall, and the center wants to renew it so they can tear down the structure and build warehouses, but the committee has other plans.

"If we can maintain a piece of the building, then we would be able to build on that as a historical museum or conference center," says committee member Lula Crenshaw.

Windows Chairman Dr. Franklin Clark says he would like to work out a compromise with the committee like possibly sharing the land. LaHuffman also thinks it can be a win-win situation for everyone.

"Hopefully out of that, we can come up with some sort of arrangement that will be mutually acceptable," LaHuffman says.

Board members of both organizations will meet again on February 16 to work out an agreement.


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