JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The newly renovated Langston Center was packed Sunday afternoon at the ribbon-cutting for the official grand re-opening.
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Originally constructed in 1892 opening in 1893, Johnson City’s Langston High School was the city’s first African American public high school.
“There’s a century of history in this building and we’re just lucky enough to keep that history intact and develop a new facility where everyone can celebrate the past and move forward into the future,” said Johnson City Manager Pete Peterson. “It has been an ongoing project for about 12 to 15 months now and it was a partial demolition and a partial remodel and actually a couple of new additions.”
Those doors now reopening as the centuries-old school building becomes a multicultural, multi-generational education center.
Hundreds of people lined up to enter the Langston center and standing room only at the grand opening ceremony.
Former students like Ruby Smith reminiscing on her time at Langston.
“I graduated in 54, I was in the band. We had the best band and some of the prettiest high steppers you ever saw. I loved the band, I just loved it all! We had good teachers, we had good times,” Smith said. “I’m just so glad I can be here. this is my original pin and my jacket, I still got my original school jacket.”
Loritha Holloway remembering her time as a former student and a cheerleader for the school.
“I love the school and I love the teachers and I loved the children, and especially the football boys because I loved football,” Holloway said. “Well, I had a boyfriend who played football that’s why I loved football.”
These doors reopening remind her of those fond memories of Friday night football.
“On the nights we had football games we’d march down through town and I had to do a lot of turning flips,” she added.
Charles Love Jr. also a former student of Langston, glad other generations can now experience this piece of history.
“It’s really wonderful for what the community has come together to do for Langston and the history of Langston,” he said.
The renovations cost around $2.3 million and the new building will include arts and crafts programs, computer classes and feature a recording studio.
The former Langston High School served as a maintenance center for the Johnson City school system before renovations began.