First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - The old two-story building at 1110 Willow St. is nondescript, but it has a powerful story to tell.
Elizabeth Kemp and other members of the Redstone-Hayswood Alumni Executive Board want to make sure that story is told for generations to come.
They are using letters, postcards and word-of-mouth to try to raise money to buy and rehabilitate the home into a “living reminder” of the two best known black schools in Lumberton - Redstone Academy and J.H. Hayswood High School. Plans are to convert it into a museum and meeting facility.
The home belonged to the late Rev. Dr. John H. Hayswood and his wife, Martha. Hayswood was the principal of Redstone Academy, which opened in 1903.
“We wanted to make the home an alumni house in honor of Dr. Hayswood,” said Kemp, who serves as the association's historian. “He was such a well-thought of person. He was usually the first black on anything going on in Lumberton. We thought that preserving this house was a good way to preserve all the things he did.”
The house is held in trust by BB&T bank for Dorothy Washington, a niece of Hayswood who is now in her 90s.
The group needs about $45,000 to buy the house and make some minor repairs. The association has raised about $5,100 so far. Those who give $100 or more will be recognized on a plaque at the house.
Louis Bracey, a a member of the Hayswood Class of 1957 who now lives in Melbourne, Fla., pledged another $1,000 during the alumni group's annual three-day reunion this weekend in Lumberton. It brought about 200 students from as far away as California and Florida. The association has about 300 active members.
“I gave the money because that school is a part of me and a part of Lumberton,” Bracey said. “You have to do things for those coming after you, just like people who came before did for me. A lot of young people don't know that we had people doing great things. This house will help tell that story.”
Redstone Academy, which in its early years was known as Bethany School, began as a boarding school. During the first year of operation, there were 45 students enrolled at the school in grades first through seventh. Students were instructed in the Bible, math, history, geography, spelling, English, reading and music.
Schools like Redstone were the only place blacks could go to get an education before the historic 1954 Supreme Court ruling that “separate but equal” violated the Constitution.
The school moved to Elizabethtown Road in 1906, where a nine-room schoolhouse was built. Grades eighth through 12th were added in 1911.
A year later, the school’s name was changed to Redstone Academy in honor of the Redstone Presbyterial in Pennsylvania, a women’s missionary group that took over sponsorship of the school.
By the time Kemp came to the school, the state had taken over its operation and enrollment had increased to 391 students. The campus had expanded to eight buildings. Kemp is a member of the Class of 1940.
After graduating from college, Kemp, a Rowland native, returned to teach fourth grade at the school.
“It was a great school that was known for its academic excellence,” she said.
Kemp said the alumni house would continue that tradition by serving as a place to tutor elementary students and as a resource center for high school students looking for information on applying for college.
Redstone closed in 1949 and was replaced by a new high school at the corner of Alexander Street and Gavintown Road that was named after J.H. Hayswood. That school closed in 1970 after integration began in earnest.