Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan joined local leaders and representatives of Boys & Girls Clubs to break ground last Friday on what will become Mace’s Lane Community Center and Edythe M. Jolley Museum & Cultural Center.
The ceremony took place next to the abandoned Mace’s Lane High School building before an enthusiastic crowd.
Hogan and others touted the new state-of-the-art facility that will not only provide a safe, enriching environment for the community’s youth but will also honor the history of the African-American educational experience in Cambridge.
“I know that this project is really fueled by the pride that this community feels, and the desire to build an even brighter future for Cambridge,” said Gov. Hogan, who had already participated in events that morning dedicating the refurbished Phillips Packing Plant and the long-anticipated Cambridge Harbor project.
He went on to announce a new $2.6 million community development block grant for the Historic Pine Street Neighborhood.
“We’re honoring the commitment I made eight years ago, when I was running for governor … that communities like Cambridge, that had long been ignored and neglected, that they would no longer be forgotten.”
Part of the Mace’s Lane Community Center endeavor involves the preservation of the old high school building, which will be converted into a 16,000-square-foot Boys & Girls Club featuring multiple meeting rooms and a full-size gymnasium.
Plus, there will be a museum depicting the history of Mace’s Lane High School, which was a segregated school from 1952 to 1969 that all of Dorchester County’s African-American students were required to attend.
Upon integration, the building was turned into a junior high and remained so until 2004, when it was abandoned. At the museum, community youth will also be inspired by the education of African Americans during and after segregation.
Other featured attendees of the ceremony included Jeff Breslin and Nik Tatum from Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore; president of Mace’s Lane Community Center, Pastor Keith Cornish; and Cambridge City Council President Lajan Cephas, who acknowledged the proud Mace’s Lane alumni present.
“I attended middle school there, but during my time as a student I had no idea I was walking through the hallways of giants,” said Cephas.
She went on to remind the crowd that the groundbreaking was only the beginning of the road for the community center project. “The fundraising must continue.”
The proceedings concluded with the governor, the other officials and a few children digging and tossing shovelfuls of dirt for the cameras. Then attendees chatted and looked over displays of plans for the community center as well as for the museum, which is named for a renowned Cambridge educational leader.