Work nears completion on Langston Centre

David Floyd • Updated Oct 28, 2019 at 10:21 PM

In November 1893, Langston High School, a facility serving Johnson City’s black student population, officially opened its doors.

“At that time (students) had been going to school in different places around the city — several different churches and several different lodge halls and things like that,” said Michael Young, chairman of Langston Education & Arts Development, an organization that spearheaded the revitalization of the old school building.

In recognition of the original opening date, which officials say the city’s newspaper at the time indicated occurred on or around Nov. 27, Johnson City will host a ribbon cutting from 2-5 p.m. on Nov. 17 to commemorate the grand opening of the newly renovated Langston Centre, a multicultural hub built on the same site as Langston High School.

The ribbon cutting will begin at 2:15 p.m. followed by tours of the building and light refreshments.

Adam Dickson, Langston Centre supervisor, said the city has tied the grand opening of the new center to the original opening of the school, which happened roughly 125 years ago, because it recognizes the citizens who formed the institution, their desire for greatness from the students, and the legacy of the school.

Langston High remained open until the school system was integrated in 1965. The building was eventually used as a storage and maintenance facility by the Johnson City School System and fell into disrepair over the years.

Maintenance operations moved to the MINCO facility in 2016, and in February 2017, the city demolished much of the building but preserved the Langston gymnasium.

On late Monday morning, crews were in the process of constructing a brick wall along the front of the renovated facility and smoothing out concrete along the new sidewalk.

Randy Trivette, the city’s director of facilities management, said crews have been putting in concrete curbs and sidewalks and are getting the parking lots and other areas ready for pavement, which Summers-Taylor, a local contractor, is tentatively scheduled to put in on Wednesday. Workers have also been hauling topsoil to seed the grassy areas on the site.

General Shale, which has donated bricks and labor to the project, has been finishing up the fence running along the front of the building. Snyder Signs will install the Langston Centre sign.

Trivette said employees in the Public Works Department will still have some work to do after the ribbon cutting, which will involve improvements to the sidewalks and the surrounding streets.

The inside of the building is almost entirely complete, Trivette said. Employees in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department have been ordering and setting up furniture inside the building.

Young said he’s had a recent opportunity to tour the inside of the building.

“It is really, really nice,” he said. “I think once people get inside and get a chance to see it, they’re going to be very, very pleased ... with what everybody who has been on the project has accomplished.”