Hockessin Community News
  • New hope for an old historic school in Hockessin

  • Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107 are working to bring the building back to life five vears after the closing of the Hockessin Community Center
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    • The History of Hockessin Colored School #107

      "Also known as the Hockessin Colored School, this building was constructed in 1920 to serve the needs of the community's African-American students. Funding for the construction was provided by t...

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      The History of Hockessin Colored School #107

      "Also known as the Hockessin Colored School, this building was constructed in 1920 to serve the needs of the community's African-American students. Funding for the construction was provided by the Delaware School Auxiliary Association and its primary supporter, P.S. duPont. Unlike white students, African-American students in the community were not provided with transportation to their school. After unsuccessfully attempting to convince officials to provide this service, Mrs. Sarah Bulah sought the assistance of attorney Louis L. Redding, who filed suit against the State Board of Education in 1951 on behalf of her daughter Shirley. Teh case was formally known as Bulah vs. Gebhart. It was subsequently combined with a similar suit that had been filed on behalf of students in Claymont. On April 1, 1952, Delaware Chancellor Collins J. Seitz issued a decision declaring that the disparity between the white and the African-American student was in violation of the United States Constitution. The case was later appealed to the United States Supreme Court, where it was joined with other cases to become Brown vs. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the court issued its historic decision declaring segregation of schools to be unlawful. Hockessin Colored School #107C was closed in 1959. It was later converted for use as the Hockesisn Community Center."

      Delaware Public Archives - 2004

      (courtesy of on-site historic marker)

  • After sitting empty for half a decade, the future seems in sight for an important piece of Hockessin history.
    Towards the end of 2013, the ownership of the Hockessin Colored School #107 was finally settled, with the deed of the Hockessin Community Center moving to the Delaware Community Foundation.
    They, in turn, will hold the title until the newly formed Friends of Hockessin Colored School #107 organization has its final approval as a non-profit.
    “It was an interim step for them to help us acquire the property,” said Friends Chairman David Wilk, a former adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. “As soon as we get our final approval (as a non-profit), we’ll transfer the property.”
    Wilk said the all-volunteer organization is working to restore the old building, which was demolished when a $400,000 addition was tacked on in the early 2000s.
    The building, located along Millcreek Road, has stood empty since the Hockessin Community Center closed its doors in 2008 due to financial crisis.
    The fight for a former #107 student to attend public school was five cases mentioned in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case that eventually lead the Supreme Court to deem segregated schools a violation of civil rights.
    With no finances currently in place, and no actual plans to review, Wilk said the project is essentially in the “due diligence” phase, with the hopes of discussing goals for the site with various community stakeholders.
    That also includes meeting with the Hockessin Historical Society, which Wilk said has yet to be scheduled.
    At Monday night’s Greater Hockessin Area Development Association meeting, Historical Society president Joe Lake said that the location is an important and valuable one to the Hockessin area.
    Lake said that when the new addition was built on, it essentially demolished the back wall of the school rendering it useless and open to the elements in several places.
    Lake said that in his discussions with various people associated with the school, there were four options for a restoration project, the last of which he personally preferred – restore the school, and the new addition, with an atrium connecting the two.
    “I don’t know what the Friends want,” he said. “The option the Historical Society hopes they give is the restoration of both buildings.”
    He said they would also like to see at least one of the two classrooms in the original building restored with the desks and blackboard in place as a museum, and a placard with the names of the students who attended the school.
    Wilk said that the group is currently developing a plan to present, for both community input and to start the financing process.
    Page 2 of 2 - The board’s primary goal, he added, is to rebuild the school, with the site eventually becoming an educational destination and community site that is both historical and commemorative.
    “It’s really about taking a treasure from the community and bringing it back to something that can contribute to the future,” Wilk said. “We are all here trying to create that future.”
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