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Group proposes turning former Lincoln High School into Gullah Geechee community center

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 3:56 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 6:15 PM EDT
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MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) – The Charleston County School Board’s Committee of the Whole on Monday heard details of a proposal to breathe new life into a shuttered school.

Lincoln High School in McClellanville was closed in 2016. Since then, it has been available to the community in limited ways.

Graduate Lewis Porchet’s vision is to transform the building into a cultural center and community hub with a number of uses to fit the area’s unique needs.

“Lincoln… presented the opportunity to create a model that can not only celebrate our Gullah Geechee cultural heritage, preserve it to enrich the culture, provide a space for local artists and continuing education programs, all of that is in the plan, but also will be a model that can be duplicated along the corridor and assist in rural community development,” he told the committee Monday afternoon.

The proposal would also see the former school become a hub for rural community development, with space for entrepreneurial training, continuing education and medical resources.

“Most of these initiatives have the goal of cultural appreciation, community education or creation of new jobs,” Porchet said.

The group plans to cover its costs through grants, private funds and revenue from leasing, and asked the district to consider leasing it the building for $1 and eventually sell it to them.

A number of community members said the biggest need in the area is a space for kids.

“There’s lots of possibilities. Open up the community center, game center for the kids, something for them to do here, especially in the summertime,” Sherry Howard, who lives behind the former school, said.

Regardless of its final form, Porchet said the project also serves as a chance to build trust between the Gullah Geechee community and the school district, which haven’t always seen eye to eye.

“The Gullah Geechee community has a skewed or negative perception of the way that it’s been served, and we believe that happened for a variety of that we’re not here to even argue, we’re here with solutions,” he said.

Monday’s presentation was just for informational purposes so the board was not able to take any action, but they asked staff to review the proposal and report back by next month.

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