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Old Fourth Ward School Reborn as Black History Library

Houston Chronicle - Houston, TX - Vacant for almost 30 years, Fourth Ward's Edgar Gregory School — once a bastion of education in the heart of Houston's oldest black neighborhood — had fallen on hard times. Wind whistled through broken windows; rain cascaded through the roof; pigeons frolicked where once earnest young scholars pursued their vision of a broader, better life.

All around the Victor Street elementary, a direct descendant of Houston's first African-American school, market forces whittled away at Freedmen's Town, a once-vibrant center of black life. What was left was, as with the school, little more than a reminder of what had been.

But don't sell the Gregory short. Next month, the school will bound back to the center of community life as the African American Library at Gregory School, the first Houston Public Library branch exclusively devoted to black history and culture. The makeover cost $11 million from federal community development block grants, and library and city of Houston construction funds, said library spokeswoman Sandra Fernandez.

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