On Sunday, Nov. 14, from 1-4pm, community members will gather to shape the future of the Bruce Street School ruins, the remnants of the first Black public school in DeKalb County. The event will take place on-site at 2449 Bruce Street, Lithonia, GA 30058. Martin Rickles Studio, an Atlanta-based interdisciplinary design studio, will lead the session to envision what is possible for the future of the ruins as a community and historic hub. Street parking is available in the surrounding neighborhood; please be respectful of residents’ driveways. Some seating will be available, but it is recommended that participants bring a chair for their convenience. While this first community engagement session will be completely in-person, future sessions will feature a virtual component for those who are unable to physically attend.
Also known as the Lithonia Negro School and the Lithonia Colored School, the Bruce Street School was a focal point for Black education in and around Lithonia. The school’s first graduating high school class (around 1943) included three pupils. By 1968, when the Bruce Street School was closed, there were over a dozen elementary and eight high school classrooms. The school building contains a rich history, and now people have an opportunity to determine how this space can become an active part of the community once again. Along with local officials, Martin Rickles Studio staff will host this and upcoming community engagement sessions to shape the future of the ruins.
DeKalb County and City of Lithonia, as well as the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance (the nonprofit management entity of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area), continue to collaborate and ensure the community-focused historic preservation of the Bruce Street School ruins. DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson secured the funds to support this next step of the project.
“We are beyond excited to begin this outreach that will shape the future of Lithonia’s historic Bruce Street School,” said Revonda Cosby, Executive Director of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance. “These community sessions will shape what happens with the site and make sure that what emerges reflects the needs, the wishes, and the aspirations of Lithonia.”
Anyone with artifacts related to the Bruce Street School – including photos, records, yearbooks and stories to use in potential exhibits – is especially encouraged to join the community engagement sessions.
For more information about the project, please visit arabiaalliance.org/brucestreet.