PITTSBURG, Kans. — People throughout Southeast Kansas are coming together to restore and protect a piece of history.
“Nobody really wanted to see it gone but nobody knew what was going to happen,” said Lemuel Sheppard, Former Carver League President.
Since the 1940’s, the Carver League building acted as a meeting place for the black community in Southeast Kansas. But over the years the building fell into disrepair.
“It just would break your heart, anyone who’s been around Pittsburg for a long time, older than me, would drive by and look at that building ‘wow the Carver League,’ and we always wondered what was going to happen to it,” said Sheppard.
Eventually an effort began to preserve and restore the building to its former glory.
“Little by little it got some attention and some members of the community stepped in saying ‘Hey let’s save this building,” said Sheppard.
One of those members was Zachary Bures, who took the restoration on as his senior project at Pittsburg State University.
“We did a complete top to bottom renovation. We had to come in a stabilize the structure. We had to do $20,000 worth of block work, we tore out the old slab and put a new slab in, new plumbing, completely new electrical system,” said Bures. “We added a patio and a sidewalk, new doors, new windows.”
Since August, he’s worked with subcontractors and trade partners to transform the building into what we see today, helping drive further community involvement.
“Looking at the project saying ‘Hey! You guys have really done a lot of work on this project. Wow! This has really changed from what it used to be. Oh, I remember back in the day,’ or we had other individuals come in and say, ‘Can we help with the project?’ We had individuals out here helping us trim trees and cut shrubbery,” said Bures.
Soon the building will stand as a museum to the Carver League and its impact on the community.
“It’s exciting to see it because it doesn’t look like a different building, it looks like the building that it was in 1940. A brand new Carver League,” said Sheppard.