Kennard Hopes for Bond Bill Funding

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Kennard Alumni Association is grateful to Senator Pipkin and Delegate Eckardt for sponsoring SB 1007 and HB 1468, respectively. We also appreciate the Senate and House Budget Committees for taking the time to hear our request.

In 1936 a dedicated group of parents, educators, and county leaders sacrificed and worked together to build Kennard High School (KHS), Queen Anne’s County’s first secondary school for African Americans. The School, which consisted of four classrooms, a small library, and a principal’s office, was built at a cost of $2600. The electric facilities were financed by funds collected from African American citizens by Mr. Larrie S. Jones; the schools first and only principal. In 1947, two classrooms, a new principal’s office and an all-purpose room were added. Enrollment had grown to 154 and the teaching staff to nine. The 12th grade was added in 1949. The “new” Kennard High School was completed in 1951 on a site adjoining the old high school grounds, accommodating 297 students and 16 teachers. The “old” Kennard High School was used in conjunction with the new school until its closing in 1966, in favor of the new “intergraded” Queen Anne’s County High School. The “old” KHS continued to be used for various county and community programs through the mid-seventies. The 9400 square foot building, which was magnificent for its time, stands “silently vacant” today. The property had significantly deteriorated through non-use and lack of upkeep over the previous 36 years.

The KHS Restoration Project began in 1996 when the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners gave the school to the Kennard Alumni Association, Inc. (KAA), through a 99-year lease. In January 2012 KAA purchased the property (for $1) from the Queen Anne’s County (QAC) Commissioners. Through grass roots fundraising and several small grants, Phase I of the project was completed in 2007. This phase stabilized the building and afforded us preliminary plans and a project cost estimate for the multi-phase project. The building is currently closed to the public and will remain so until restoration is completed. Phase II, for which funding was completed in 2011, included demolition, complete exterior restoration and structural repair, site work and landscaping, water and sewage connection, flooring support repair, and plumbing, electrical, and HVAC “rough-ins”. Demolition for Phase II revealed structural deficiencies that needed to be addressed before exterior repairs and mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical upgrades could be completed. These repairs have added approximately $145,000 in architectural and construction costs, via “Change Orders”, to our budget. These structural repairs have been completed, putting us back on schedule. All of the above work for this phase was completed by the end of 2012, thanks in part to previous Bond Bill Grants, totaling $275,000, and QAC’s Capital Grant support. As we move forward with the final phase of this restoration project, it is imperative that we not lose momentum in our efforts to complete this task and we need the continued support of both private and state funding. We have been fortunate to receive grant funding from the African American Preservation Program toward some of the interior work for this final phase.

The Kennard Alumni Association is requesting a $300,000 Bond Bill Grant to help complete the funding for the final phase of the restoration project. The association has, on hand, committed, or planned events and campaigns to raise $345,000 in cash and $20,000 in-kind materials and services, over the next 18 months, as matching funds for this grant. This final phase will include the “Heart Transplant” of this old building, which is the completion of the mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical upgrades. This includes a new boiler, heating, air conditioning, and fire suppression systems. This phase will also complete our interior “Facelift”, highlighted by new “period” lighting, restored and new cabinetry, new finished flooring, and fresh plaster and paint.

The final process will be startup, testing, adjusting, and balancing of all systems. All work will comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties”.

Upon the project’s completion the building will be renamed “Kennard High School” African American Cultural Heritage Center. Kennard High School is a contributing structure in the Centreville Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and serves as a tour site of the Historical Sites Consortium of Queen Anne’s County. One of the highlights of the new center will be its “Classroom Museum” which will feature pictures, artifacts, and memorabilia depicting the history of the school and its influence in the county. Audio and video “Recorded Histories” will also be featured in the museum. This building, in addition to serving as a site for historical tours to the schools and the public, will be used for a variety of ongoing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for the youth and adults of Queen Anne’s County and beyond. It is estimated that at least 2500 people will enter the renovated Kennard High School annually once the renovations are finished and programs are fully instituted. (Estimated late 2014 to early 2015)

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