- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2007

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) The Kansas State Historical Society won’t allow city officials to demolish the former all-white school that was at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education case.

The Topeka City Council gave preliminary approval last week to begin the destruction of Sumner Elementary School, but the historical society said Thursday that a 2002 agreement requires the city to preserve the structure until 2012.

To change the building’s architectural appearance and structural integrity, the city needs the historical society’s permission, said Patrick Zollner, the state agency’s director of historic preservation.

The covenant, signed by Topeka Mayor Butch Felker in 2002, can be amended or released only by mutual written agreement. “The society would never consent to the demolition of Sumner School,” Mr. Zollner said.

Council and city staff members have said they would like to save the building, but the cost to the city has forced them to consider other options.

Oliver Brown tried to enroll his daughter in the school in 1950. When the school turned them away, the Browns filed a lawsuit that eventually led to the Supreme Court’s 1954 desegregation decision.