New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon was among the dignitaries participating in the groundbreaking Wednesday of Iron Hill Museum’s new Learning Center and the renovation of the former Iron Hill Colored School 112C on the grounds of one of New Castle County’s most picturesque parks.
Gordon provided a $1 million grant that would pay for the bulk of construction costs. The project would allow the historic school to be restored to its original state while moving other museum operations to the new Learning Center.
“It was to preserve the old Colored School 112,” Gordon said of his grant. “And this is our park so it made sense to have a feature that would attract people to this park.”
Iron Hill Colored School 112C was among more than 80 schools built by P.S. duPont for African-American students in Delaware in the early 20th Century. It provided schooling to children of some of the iron ore workers.
Iron Hill Building Chairman John Mayer thanked Gordon, who allocated the $1 million to this project during his last term in office, which ended in 2004. The project had been on the books for some time, but Mayer said he was glad Iron Hill was finally ready to move forward with the bricks and sticks phase.
“We’re looking forward to finally getting this done,” Mayer said. “Without Tom’s backing this never would have happened.
“We’re going to move out of the old school house and restore it to exactly what it was like when it was a schoolhouse,” Mayer added. “People can see what it was like.”
Iron Hill also received a $219,000 grant from the Delaware Economic Development Office and $40,000 from Newark-area state legislators, including John Kowalko, Bethany Hall-Long and Terry Schooley, who left office.
Construction is scheduled to begin in late August. The new Learning Center will be built on land leased to Iron Hill by New Castle County.