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Garland celebrated the grand re-opening of the Carver Senior Center, located at 222 Carver St., on Wednesday, July 10. Here is a link to video from the event.
The center is a showpiece with its new full-service kitchen and a floor-to-ceiling interior overhaul that includes ADA-compliant restrooms. Renovations topped $900,000, funded mostly by federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
But the event was also a time to recognize the site’s history. The building was once Carver High School, which provided secondary education for black students in a segregated Garland.
The building’s history is told in a timeline mural with information compiled by Carver graduates and members of Carver Alumni Programs & Services, many of whom were in attendance at the grand re-opening.
Emcee Chester Johnson, a Carver graduate, praised the efforts “to keep a living legacy alive.”
Virginia Willis provided some details of that legacy, specifically noting the teachers who helped students overcome hand-me-down, outdated textbooks passed down when the white students got new books.
“The teachers encouraged us to believe in ourselves. That we could achieve any goals if we worked hard and took pride in ourselves,” Willis said. With the remade, modern senior center serving that same generation on that same site, she added that, “Closing Carver’s doors is not the end of the story.”
George Washington Carver School opened at the corner of Carver and Hopkins streets in 1948, a quarter century after the formal education of black students started in Garland. The high school was added in 1954. The schools were closed by 1970 when the Garland Independent School District was fully desegregated. The City purchased the buildings about a decade later.
The original buildings were demolished, but both the high school and its former gym are still valuable to many City programs. The Garland Code Compliance and Fair Housing departments are currently centered at Carver. So are the Garland Housing Agency and the Health Department’s Clinical Services Division. The former gym and the Carver 3 building, which the City added in 1988, were also targets of major upgrades.
Garland Mayor Scott LeMay and City Council Member Deborah Morris acknowledged the many years behind the planning of the renovations and thanked staff and Council members who contributed.
“There was a need and we committed,” said former District 2 Council Member Annie Dickson. “And it serves just like the Carver school served.”
U.S. Rep. Colin Allred toured the facility on Friday, July 5, and in Washington, D.C., formally commended the city for its utilization in federal grants and its investment in Carver Senior Center.
PHOTO: Ribbon-cutting at the grand re-opening of the Carver Senior Center. From left, Mayor Pro Tem Robert John Smith; former Council Members B.J. Williams, Anita Goebel and Terri Dunn; Council Member Deborah Morris; former Council Members Annie Dickson and Stephen Stanley; Mayor Scott LeMay; and Council Members David Gibbons and Jim Bookhout.