Washington’s ‘hidden jewel’ enters new phase of development

Published 8:12 pm Monday, February 21, 2022

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Organizers of the P.S. Jones Museum of African-American Education announced this week, that the facility is entering Phase Two of its project to transform the museum into a local tourism destination offering lessons about P.S. Jones High School, which was one of 300 historically Black high schools in North Carolina.

A group of Washington residents, many of whom attended the high school pre-integration, have been working for several years to turn a space on the school’s grounds into a museum highlighting the history, efforts, accomplishments and significance of the school and its alumni. A reception was held at the museum in October 2021 to share the master plan for its transformation, and launch a pledge campaign to fund the project’s second phase of development, according to a press release.

The Zebulon-based firm of Design Dimensions, which designed the North Carolina Estuarium, has been chosen for the project, according to Museum Curator Alice Sadler, who recently gathered top donors to announce pledge drive status and rally more community support for completing the Phase Two funding goal of $28,000. The P.S. Jones Alumni Association is already at 60% of that target. Sadler said that, with more pledges promised, members anticipate reaching their goal ahead of the March 31 deadline.

Since the October reveal, several organizations have expressed interests in promoting the transformation efforts, most recently Washington Noon Rotary and Boneyard Harley Davidson of Winterville. The motorcycle dealership designated funds raised from last weekend’s “First Annual Black History Month Benefit Ride” to the museum.

“We are so delighted that they chose us,” Sadler said of the dealership’s decision to accept the idea, which was the inspiration of Washington resident Tony Moore, who is a member of Washington-based “95 East Goldwing Riders.” Moore submitted his plan to the dealership, which planned a route that attracted cyclists from as far as Fayetteville, and included a private tour of the museum before the sheriff-escorted group returned to Winterville. That fundraising total has not yet been released.

After a recent private tour for members of the Washington Tourism Board, member Kathleen Simpson called the facility “a hidden jewel in Washington. This isn’t just African-American history. It is Washington’s history.”

People wishing to donate can still do so by visiting the Aumni Association website – PSJonesAlumni.com – or come to the museum during regular operating hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We are so pleased to have early donors like those … who gave so generously to advance completion of this museum”, said Wali Saleem, Director of Finance for the museum. “It’s going to be a great thing for the community.”