Greensboro has been funded to do a study of historic buildings in the city that were designed and built by African Americans.
The Greensboro Planning Department has received a $12,000 federal Historic Preservation Fund grant to document and survey the buildings which will be done in conjunction with Preservation Greensboro Inc. and the community.
One building noted in the city press release is the James B. Dudley High School Gymnasium designed in 1959 by African American architect W. Edwards Jenkins.
It may not be an accident that this building was chosen to highlight because in the early 2000s the Dudley gym came within a hairsbreadth of being demolished. Another noted black architect, Harvey Gant, had recommended that the buildings at Dudley be demolished and replaced with new construction. It was a close call, but historic preservationists, joined by many Dudley alumni managed to stop the demolition of the main high school building and gym. Instead of being demolished, the buildings were extensively renovated.
Jenkins worked in the office of Edward Lowenstein who was white and that was unusual in Greensboro which was still segregated in the 1950s.
The fact that Jenkins a black architect worked for a firm owned by a white architect brings up a point that City Councilmember Justin Outling raised at the July 16 City Council work session.
According to the current Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) program, the Dudley High School gym even though it was designed by a black architect wouldn’t count in any of the city’s MWBE figures.
Outling said that there should be some way to capture and consider this type of data when the principle doing the primary work on the contract is a minority.