On Monday, September 12, 1921, with W.H. Jones as its Principal, Eureka School opened its doors to African American students in grades 1 – 12 in what was said to be the second modern, brick facility in Mississippi for the education of African Americans. Serving students from 1921 to 1987, Eureka School educated thousands of African Americans from Hattiesburg.
The Historic Eureka School will host a Centennial Celebration with several events taking place in both August and September.
“As I reminisce on the Historic Eureka School, and look forward to this opportunity to honor Eureka’s Centennial Celebration, one slogan comes to mind,” said Cora Coleman EUROHA President, “‘A past to remember, a present to celebrate, and a future to generate!’”
Eureka’s Centennial Celebration kicked-off on August 19th with the Legacy of Love Exhibit, named after Grace and Mary Elise Love. Both women, mother and daughter, taught at Eureka School at some point in their careers. Grace taught in Hattiesburg public schools for more than 50 years, and her daughter, Mary, for 41 years.
The Legacy of Love Exhibit features handwritten letters, photographs, a Eureka High School Diploma, certificates, drawings and lesson plans created and shared between the two women.
The Legacy of Love Exhibit will be open to the public through September 30 on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Additional events being held during the Centennial Celebration include the Eureka School Open House on August 28 at 10:00 a.m., where former Eureka School staff and students will be available to share their favorite memories or stories about the school.
On September 13, at 10:00 a.m., Teacakes and Conversation will be held so that middle school and high school students will have the opportunity to chat with Eureka alumni about their experiences at the school. Both of these events are open to the public and there is no fee to attend.
Stephanie Hoze, co-chair of EUROHA Education Committee and its past president, said the following about the upcoming Centennial Celebration, “As we celebrate Eureka’s vital and strong 100th Year Anniversary, we honor her for inspiring and leading generations of students with the will and courage to succeed!”
All events for the Historic Eureka School’s Centennial Celebration will take place at 410 E. Sixth Street in Hattiesburg.
The Historic Eureka School Centennial Celebration is brought to you by the Sixth Street Museum District in partnership with the EUROHA Alumni Association.
Historic Eureka School Timeline
1918 – A red-frame school building on East 6th Street serves as a school for African American students.
1920 – A bond issue for $75,000 is passed to build a new school building.
September 1921 – With W.H. Jones as its principal, Eureka School opens its doors. Eureka was a union school, housing African American students in grades 1 – 12 from 1921-1949.
As many who attended Eureka have said, “Eureka was not only a union school, it was the unifying element and most significant educational and social resource of the African American community during that time period.”
1940 – Enrollment reaches 800, and the football team goes undefeated for the second consecutive year.
1947 – Enrollment reaches 1400.
1950 – Royal Street High School (later Rowan High School) is built for African American students, and Eureka becomes an elementary and junior high school.
1958 – W. H. Jones Junior High opens. Eureka then becomes an elementary school for grades 1st – 6th. Plans are approved for additions and renovations.
1987 – Under the approval of a new desegregation plan for elementary schools, Eureka School closed. It became a Community Education Center under the direction of Clara Weathersby. A portion of the space at Eureka was devoted to the sole use of EURO the Eureka-Royal Street -Rowan Alumni Association.
Mid-1990s – The Community Education Center closed, but other educational organizations such as HELP, an adult education and literacy program, and a computer training program continued to operate.
Late-1990s – The EURO Alumni Association funded the first adaptive reuse plan for the building.
July 14, 2005 – MS Department of Archives and History designates the school as a state landmark that serves as a focal point of history and heritage for African Americans in the Hattiesburg community.
2006 – The Hattiesburg Convention Commission, in agreement with the Hattiesburg Public School District, takes ownership of Eureka and begins plans for renovations.
February 2013 – A tornado destroys portions of the Eureka roof, causing major damage. Renovations are delayed.
2018 – Renovations on Eureka School are completed and a ribbon cutting is held.
2019 to present – With the restoration of the Historic Eureka School complete, plans continue with its revival as a museum. The Historic Eureka School Museum will chronicle African American heritage and culture and the Civil Rights Movement, particularly highlighting the activities of Freedom Summer 1964.