Two exhibits added at Carver schoolhouse
More preservation work on building still to be done
NEOSHO, Mo. — George Washington Carver enthusiasts gathered Tuesday at the Carver schoolhouse, 639 Young St. in Neosho, for the unveiling of two exhibits.
“It’s just a way of further connecting people to what is a very important resource,” said Jim Heaney, superintendent of George Washington Carver National Monument. “Not just because of Carver’s connection, but also because of the period that it served as a black school.”
The two exhibits are located on either side of the schoolhouse and contain historical, educational information about Carver’s struggle to find education and the family Carver stayed with in Neosho to keep from walking 9 miles to school every day.
“You can actually see something and learn a little bit in addition to enjoying the resource,” Heaney said.
The two exhibits cost approximately $5,000 in total.
The exhibits were made several years ago, along with some that were put up at the George Washington Carver National Monument. “We were just looking for a good time to unveil them,” Heaney said.
The schoolhouse opened in 1872, but Carver did not attend school there until approximately 1876. The school was rediscovered about 12 years ago when a bank was foreclosing on the house. The plan was to demolish it, but the George Washington Carver Birthplace Association stepped in to save the structure.
Since then, “they have been working with the National Park Service to try to restore the building and to get it on the National Register of Historic Places and give it the attention and recognition that it deserves,” Heaney said.
This summer, a national organization that helps preserve historic buildings, HistoriCorps, traveled to Neosho to restore the exterior of the building to its original appearance.
“It’s come a long way, but there’s still a lot to do,” Heaney said. There is still a lot of work to do to remodel the interior of the building, but Heaney hopes to have the entire structure completed and open for visitors by 2022, which is the 150th anniversary of the opening of the school.
“It’s very much a work in progress,” Heaney added. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we do hope to finish it in the next couple of years.”
Thanks to the Joplin Globe for allowing the reprint of this article.