Restoration on Claflin School underway; set to open 2020

The dream of fully restoring a crumbling but historic school built in downtown Columbus to educate the African-American community is moving closer to reality.

Officials broke ground in August to begin restoration of the old Claflin School at 1532 5th Ave. in Columbus. Rev. Richard Jessie, executive director of restoration with Friends of Historic Claflin, said work to put a roof on is nearly complete, grounds work is underway and hazardous materials have been removed from the building’s interior.

“This time next year, what you see now will be almost fully developed,“ said Jessie. “Given that everything will go as planned, which sometimes they don’t do, we expect to see this up and running in 2020.”

Jessie also said Friends of Historic Claflin, a nonprofit group that has lobbied and pushed for the former educational institution to be rescued, is planning a community-education component for Claflin when it’s completed. He said the organization’s board members will meet next week to take a fresh look at their efforts, but also needs community help and input.

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“We’re saying to the community we need your input, we need your creative ideas, we need you to help us make this not only a restored facility but to also to help restore our community to where it needs to be,“ Jessie said.

Go to for a video update of the project.

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