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Decatur School Board considers naming central office after former mayor Elizabeth Wilson

Decatur

Decatur School Board considers naming central office after former mayor Elizabeth Wilson

Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson explained how the city changed the name Herring Street to West Trinity Place. Beacon Elementary and Trinity High replaced Herring Street School until integration of the Decatur School System was completed in 1967. Current Mayor Jim Baskett surprised Wilson, unveiling a banner with the new name of the open grassy lawn: Herring-Trinity Terrace. Mayor Baskett said a plaque will replace the banner. Photo by Dena Mellick
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Mayor Emerita Elizabeth Wilson, left, stands next to former mayor Jim Baskett. File photo by Dena Mellick

When the Decatur School Board meets  on Dec. 11 it will consider adopting names for three buildings, a proposal that includes naming City Schools of Decatur’s central office after former mayor Elizabeth Wilson.

Wilson was the city’s first black mayor and played a role in desegregating the city’s school system and the county’s library system.

If the name change is approved, CSD’s central office will be called the Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center.

The School Board will also consider naming the new school on Talley Street the Talley Street Upper Elementary School and renaming the 4/5 Academy. If the proposal is adopted, that school would be called the Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary School.

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, City Schools of Decatur will go from a system of K-3 elementary schools with a 4-5 academy to a system of K-2 elementary schools and two 3-5 academies.

The new 3-5 school at Talley Street which is expected to be finished by the start of the 2019 school year. The new school will cost $22 million and will seat 750 students.

Wilson also lived in the historically African American Beacon Hill community where CSD’s central office is currently located, along with the Decatur Police Department and city Municipal Court.

The Beacon Hill community was eventually forced out by the city of Decatur.

According to the city’s website, “For decades, the Beacon area was considered by city officials to be a slum. Urban renewal, the process to buy, clear, and redevelop the area, began in the late 1930s. The residential and commercial area bounded by Electric Avenue, Herring Street, Oliver Street, and Robin Street was cleared to build the Allen Wilson Terrace Homes, one of the earliest public housing efforts in the country. A pamphlet created by the Decatur Housing Authority characterized the Beacon community as ‘a blighted area, like a cancer [that] threatens to eat its way into [the] vital organs of our municipality.'”

In recent years, the city has attempted to preserve what’s left of Beacon’s history, and Wilson was a big part of that effort.

The Dec. 11 School Board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at CSD’s central office, located at 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030.

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Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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