WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The culmination of years of hard work and dedication to create a lasting legacy to G.H. White was recognized with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon at a renovated farmhouse in Clarkton.
According to a news release the farmhouse that is now known as the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center was renovated to “serve the people of Bladen and Columbus counties.” Bladen County is “the birthplace of Congressman George Henry White who served from 1897 to 1901 as the last congressperson of color before the segregation era.”
In the late 1800s, North Carolina and Bladen County native George Henry White served two terms as the nation’s only elected black representation in Congress until 1901.
In 2015, the building was donated to the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation (BESDF) to establish a living tribute to G.H. White.
Extensive renovations were carried out by a network of volunteers from the community and beyond.
“This has been a case of Divine Intervention, from start to finish,” said project leader, Vince Spaulding. “The task looked so impossible, and at times, we nearly gave up. Then, at a crucial moment, someone would step forward. These are the heroes that we are honoring today. As the George Henry White Center is welcomed to the Chambers of Commerce, we want to honor all the tradesmen, businesses, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations that helped us build a modern venue for education and development in a rural and often underserved area.”
It is hoped the center will provide a place for people in Bladen and Columbus counties to gain information, tools and connections to opportunities to help the community grow and thrive. It comprises a large assembly room, two seminar rooms, one historic exhibit room, a smaller office, a kitchen, a rest room, a large rear deck, and a smaller front deck. The building is ADA accessible.
Goals for the community center include computer and technology training, health and wellness education, drug awareness and intervention, enterprise skill building, financial literacy training, and access to historical information.
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