HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Eureka School serves as a focal point of history and heritage for African Americans in the Hattiesburg community, according to hattiesburgeureka.com.
The 97-year-old building is in the process of being transformed into a civil rights museum by the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, with help from supporters such as the EUROHA (Eureka-Royal Street-Rowan-Hattiesburg High Schools) Alumni Association, which donated $10,000 to the building renovation process in the 1990s.
“Fabulous. It was our, all in all, this was it. This was your chance,” said former Eureka School student Charles Brown. “This building was the third brick building built for black students in Mississippi.”
Brown attended Eureka School for nine years from 1948 to 1957. He remembers sitting in the classrooms of Eureka like it was yesterday.
“At the end of each school year, each class, except seniors, had to give a school closing program, a play or something, and they were all held in this auditorium,” said Brown.
In 2005, the State of Mississippi designated Eureka School as a historic landmark in Hattiesburg.
The school was opened in the 1920s and was one of only two brick high schools created for African Americans in Mississippi.
According to Hattiesburg Eureka, the union school housed grades 1 through 12 from 1921 to 1949 under Lead Principal W.H. Jones, the first principal at Eureka.
The website defines Eureka as not only a union school, but the unifying element and most significant educational and social resource for the African American community during the 1921 to 1949 time period.
The enrollment of Eureka began with about 800 students and grew to 1,400 students in 1947, according to Hattiesburg Eureka.
Community members tell us that during that time, there were so many students interested in being enrolled at Eureka that it became overcrowded and possibly a health issue. That all changed after the opening of Rowan High School in 1949.
By renovating Eureka, the Hattiesburg Convention Commission believes it will allow the Pine Belt to see and walk through history.
“We need to set that stage, and we will tell that story of where they lived in the Pine Belt area,” said Rick Taylor, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “It’s the brainchild of EUROHA Alumni Association.”
Management tells us that Eureka School will be used as a museum to showcase the past. The civil rights museum is expected to open its doors in 2020.