Deciding What History Is Worth Saving In Alexandria | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Filed Under:

Deciding What History Is Worth Saving In Alexandria

Play associated audio
William Cromley, who owns the nursery school building, says
it would take hundreds of thousands to dollars to restore it. He has gotten approval for demolition.
Jonathan Wilson
William Cromley, who owns the nursery school building, says it would take hundreds of thousands to dollars to restore it. He has gotten approval for demolition.

By Jonathan Wilson

A former nursery school building in Alexandria, Virginia is now on the list of the ten most "endangered" historical sites in the Commonwealth.

But the building's owner says tearing it down is his only option.

The building housed Carver Nursery School for African-Americans in the 1940s. In 1950 it became an American Legion post and a community center for African Americans in Alexandria.

Two years ago developer William Cromley bought it with the intention of restoring it.

"That's my job," says Cromley. "That's what I do, I restore old properties."

But Cromley says soon after he bought it, he realized there was little he could do with the building. It was in disrepair and covered in asbestos.

The city of Alexandria refused to accept it as a gift, so Cromley applied for, and got, approval to demolish it.

Now a group of preservationists has filed a lawsuit to stop him, arguing that buildings in historically black neighborhoods have gotten less protection than their counterparts in white neighborhoods.

Gwen Day attended Carver Nursery School in the 1940s.

"So many times our buildings have been destroyed before we even knew what was on the drawing board, or what was coming up," says Day.

The case goes to court in November. Cromley says he knows the case will be difficult.

"It's not a simple debate," he says. "It's very nuanced and intelligent people can disagree on whether this building needs to be preserved."

Cromley says another possible resolution could come if the preservationists find someone else to buy the property, which has been appraised at $1 million.

NPR

Puerto Rico Is Sowing A New Generation Of Small Farmers

Decades of industrialization have left the island reliant on imported food. But change is coming — from government subsidies for small farmers, to classes that teach school kids how to grow food.
NPR

Puerto Rico Is Sowing A New Generation Of Small Farmers

Decades of industrialization have left the island reliant on imported food. But change is coming — from government subsidies for small farmers, to classes that teach school kids how to grow food.
WAMU 88.5

Abortion Is Back In The Spotlight In Virginia

The state's current attorney general is overturning a ruling from the previous attorney general that would have shut down most of the abortion clinics in the state, and the issue isn't just about regulations and politics. It's also about money.
NPR

Smartphones Can Be Smart Enough To Find A Parasitic Worm

If someone is infected by the Loa loa worm, taking a drug to treat river blindness could be risky. Now there's a fast way to identify the worm — by turning a smartphone into a microscope.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.