FLORENCE — Anyone who attended school in Florence will find something to reawaken memories Sunday in a special room at Burrell-Slater.
Volunteers and school officials have assembled a memorabilia room with artifacts dating to the dawn of public education in Florence. A special open house is set for 2-4 p.m. Sunday.
“We have artifacts from the beginnings of the school system in 1890 all the way up to the consolidation of the two high schools in 2004,” said Billy Warren, curriculum director for city schools. “We have in that room actual class roll books completed by hand in beautiful script. The earliest one we have is from 1893.”
Other items from the past include textbooks, old-fashioned typewriters, a stereopticon and a magic lantern, he said.
“The magic lantern is a schoolroom version of the stereopticon. It has a single light bulb and used glass plates,” Warren said. “The image was projected onto the wall or a bed sheet.”
Of more recent interest is a collection of items from Bradshaw and Coffee high schools, which were consolidated as one school in 1994. Yearbooks, a band uniform, trophies and newspapers are among the items collected from the two schools.
“We want to have it so people can come in and look at the old annuals, and maybe track their ancestors and see pictures of them that they have never have seen,” said Linda Wilson, one of the volunteers who is organizing memorabilia from Coffee.
“When people have class reunions, we hope they can come to this room and say, ‘I helped write this article,’ or ‘I drew this picture, or went on a trip somewhere representing the school,’ ” said Mae Austin, who is helping organize the Bradshaw memorabilia. “The room will bring back memories.”
For now, the memorabilia room will be open by appointment only. Austin and Wilson said they hope that will change soon.
Eventually, they hope to follow the lead of Burrell-Slater’s memorabilia room, which is in the same building.
Burrell’s room celebrates the heritage of the African American schools in Florence before integration of public schools was completed in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Burrell facility was one of those schools. It now houses a culinary center and other public use areas.
“We have to have volunteers there when it is open,” Austin said. “Burrell-Slater opens their memorabilia room at least once a week with volunteers. They have an established time when they are open, and we hope we can be open at the same times they are.”
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.