Historic Bruce Street School
Built through a grassroots community effort, the Bruce Street School was the first African-American public school in DeKalb County. While the stone school (also known as “the old school building”) was built in the late 1930s, the Bruce Street School’s history of community-led education efforts goes back to the 1880s. The old school building ruins that remain stand as a legacy to African-American education in DeKalb County and the power of community.
The Future of the Historic Bruce Street School Ruins
Today, the remains of the old school building sit adjacent to the the new East DeKalb Senior and Community Center. This creates an exciting opportunity to not only preserve the old school building but also to activate the site to create a place for community pride and to tell this important story. We’ve created a short video (above) to share some possibilities for the historic Bruce Street School ruins.
Late in 2022 the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance and community partners and stakeholders unveiled an new interpretive sign. Visitors to the site can explore the ruins safely behind a fence and read about the vital history of this community school.
A Community Informed Conceptual Design!
Community engagement is a crucial component to preserve the old school building ruins and bring the whole Bruce Street School story to life. Over the last year community members have shared photos and stories from the history of the Bruce Street School to help understand this site’s legacy and the future vision for the ruins. These vital meetings informed our design partners, and resulted in the current conceptual design, introduced to the community and stake holders at the end of 2022. concept design event 2 (3)
Share Your Story
Did you or someone you know attend the Bruce Street School? Do you have mementos like photographs, yearbooks, and other items from the school? If you answered yes, then we’d love to hear from you! First-hand accounts, oral histories, photographs, and other memorabilia help us understand the past and allows a complete story to be told. There are lots of ways to share your memories and artifacts with us. One way is to complete our History Harvest form. You can also email us or connect on Facebook.
About the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance
Lithonia sits in the heart of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, a historically and naturally significant landscape that encompasses over 40,000 acres where people live, work, and play. The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance (the Arabia Alliance) will lead community engagement efforts for the historic Bruce Street School ruins project. The Alliance is the non-profit partner that advocates for, preserves, and tells the story of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. The Alliance has led many preservation, community development, and interpretive projects across DeKalb, Henry, and Rockdale Counties.