- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

NEOSHO, Mo. (AP) - Work has begun to restore the 140-year-old southwest Missouri schoolhouse attended by George Washington Carver, one of the 20th century’s most important scientists.

The small, yellow, run-down house in Neosho was built in 1872 and is now one of the oldest surviving schoolhouses built for African-American students in Missouri.

HistoriCorps, a nonprofit organization that puts students and volunteers to work saving historic places around the U.S., started work recently to restore the school to its 1872 appearance, The Joplin Globe reported (https://j.mp/1W1eMVv). The schoolhouse is owned by the nonprofit Carver Birthplace Association and was the first school attended by Carver, who was born near Diamond and later taught people how to make peanut butter and rotate crops.

The association works to encourage the scientific, educational, historical and interpretive activities of the National Park Service at George Washington Carver National Monument, which is near Diamond, and to promote Carver’s legacy. Arvest Bank donated the school building to the association after acquiring it through foreclosure in 2004.

The group hopes the exterior restoration will get the schoolhouse on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Being on the National Register means its significance is recognized; that potentially opens it up for grants and additional funding,” Jim Heaney, superintendent of the national monument, said. “It definitely gives it distinction, but it also helps preserve it for good.”

Born into slavery near the end of the Civil War, Carver, at age 11 walked 8 miles to the school in Neosho, which he attended for a few years before leaving for Kansas to further his education.

HistoriCorps has tackled 170 projects in 21 states since 2009. This year it plans to finish 30 more projects from New Hampshire to California. The Carver Birthplace Association is paying HistoriCorps $36,000 for the restoration, but without the help of HistoriCorps, the work would cost upward of $50,000, according to association officials.

“The whole goal of the project is to restore the home to its 1870s appearance as a schoolhouse,” Heaney said.


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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