Burned in 1963

This sign is on Green Hope School road in Cary, North Carolina.  

Just down the street are Green Hope High School and Green Hope Elementary, but long before they came along, there was Green Hope School.  It was built in 1927.  It was the the first accredited school in Wake County, but there was one glaring fact that was not part of the sign.  It was a whites-only establishment.

Until it was completely destroyed in 1963.

It happened at 1:00 in the morning on August 15th. Firefighters reported a car speeding away as they approached the blaze.

In 1963, it was on the verge of opening its doors to black students.  And then the fire.  Later, officials described the fire as suspicious, but no one was ever arrested.

In 1976, Wake County Public School System was created, with ambition to finally provide kids of all racial and economic backgrounds an opportunity for an equal education.

Green Hope School was never rebuilt, but in 1999, Green Hope High School was built just down the street.  It’s now one of the top schools in North Carolina.

The sign is all that remains where a school once stood.  Now I can’t drive by without looking for it and thinking about what was.   Burning down a school is just unimaginable and painful to think about.  But it happened.  Right here in my backyard.

We must never forget that ignorance is dangerous.  And it is a choice.   Stay informed.  For those who do not believe that history isn’t valuable today,  I would argue we need history to remind us where we’ve been and where we still need to be.

5 thoughts on “Burned in 1963”

  1. Steph – when we moved here 17 years ago, there was an old small schoolhouse near that sign. I always loved driving by it. Then one day I drove by and it was gone, and I was so sad. I wonder where it went ad if it was a part of the school that burned down. Any ideas??

    1. Wow, I bet it was. And now I’m curious about where it went. I’m assuming the creation of a few suburbs in the area had something to do with it. Makes me sad to see historical places like these old barns and houses get destroyed.

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