Renovation, new construction in Richard Allen Coalition’s plans

New building to named in honor of the late Eunice Richardson

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 6/17/24

GEORGETOWN – Juneteenth Saturday in Georgetown brought hundreds of people to the historic Richard Allen School for a celebration of freedom, camaraderie, fellowship, food and entertainment.

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Renovation, new construction in Richard Allen Coalition’s plans

New building to named in honor of the late Eunice Richardson

Posted

GEORGETOWN — Saturday in Georgetown brought hundreds of people to the historic Richard Allen School for a celebration of Juneteenth.

It also was a time to peer into the future and Richard Allen Coalition’s plans to perpetuate the school legacy and make it and a new structure the hub of the community.

While renovation of the former school built nearly a century ago by businessman/philanthropist Pierre S. duPont continues, the coalition is embarking on a project to construct a multi-use facility right next door on South Railroad Avenue.

The new structure, hopefully to be built within several years, will be named the Eunice Richardson Multi-Purpose Building, honoring the woman who spent most of her 99 years helping others.

“Eunice was a great woman in this whole community,” said Richard Allen Coalition member Dr. Ivan Neal. “She was like a mother to all. She helped people. She had the means to help people and she had the heart to help people. She spent her lifetime, 99 years helping people.”

“My understanding is even the year that she passed away, she was still actively involved in her church and helping in the community to the extent that she could,” Dr. Neal said.

He has special affection for Ms. Richardson who was his godmother.

“I grew up right here in Georgetown on Carver Street. When I was born, she lived across the street. The story that Mom tells is that when Mom went into labor with me, Eunice rushed her to Seaford Hospital. And then, during the course of time, she ended up naming me.” said Dr. Neal.

The coalition plans are twofold.

“There are two things going on right now. We’re actively raising funds to renovate this building (former school). We’ve already embarked on that. Some of the work has already started. Some of it is scheduled to resume this summer,” Dr. Neal said.

“The capital campaign, we think it would probably be a two- or three-year project. We have to raise several million dollars to build that building.”

The multi-purpose facility would feature a large gathering area that can be used for seating events and banquets with a kitchen and a large space that can double as a meeting room and gymnasium.

The hope, Dr. Neal said, is for the renovated school building to become a hub for family and community activities, just as it was for decades during segregation as one of dozens of schools in Delaware built for Black students by Mr. duPont in the 1920s.

“It was a school back in the day. Richard Allen was where we came to fellowship, to enjoy each other’s company,” Dr. Neal said.

“Of course, the kids got educated during the day but on weekends this building was open for baseball games, community events.”

Ms. Richardson, who passed away in February of 2021, was educated at the Richard Allen School in Georgetown, graduated high school from the former Delaware State College High School for Negroes in Dover, which is now Delaware State University.

The coalition has received some state and federal funding for these projects.

“We’re always looking for donations. We’re applying for anything that is out there,” Dr. Neal said.

The coalition is seeking funding from the Longwood Foundation, founded by Pierre S. duPont in 1937 to be a catalyst to strengthen nonprofits to better service their communities.

“One of the big goals that we have is to go back to the Longwood Foundation. This of course is one of those duPont schools,” Dr. Neal said.

“We went to them (Longwood) probably six or seven years ago in our infancy and they told us we weren’t ready yet. They said we didn’t have enough programs and we didn’t have enough structure. Well, seven years later, we know we’ve got the structure now. So, we’re going to be going back to them. We believe that the funding that would be made available to us, it could be substantial.”

The coalition is also embarking on a project to renovate the playground on the former school grounds on South Railroad Avenue.

“It’s all going to be redone,” said Dr. Neal.

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