STUTTGART, Ark. (KTHV) -- Holman School served as the primary African-American schools in Stuttgart. The last high school class graduated in 1970. After that, desegregation merged both races at Stuttgart High School. It left Holman School abandoned until 1995 when some unexpected buyers came to it's rescue.
Calvin Criner graduated from Holman High School in 1965. He never dreamed thirty years later, he and several of his classmates would buy their Alma Mater.
"We paid $152,000 for it over a period of some 14 years. We have a feeding program here, we have a senior citizens program here, we have a fitness program here, a healthy lifestyle, healthy living program," says Criner.
A group of Holman alumni spent thousands of out of pocket money to build the Holman Heritage Community Center, focused on providing essential services to low income families. From after school programs, to a technical learning center, the new center served it's community well but not for long.
"Up until we sustained the damages to our property, our physical structure, these are the kinds of programs and services we were offering,"says Criner.
In May of 2008, a tornado swept through the city of Stuttgart, leaving Criner's dream of a full service community center in shambles. The roof suffered severe wind damage, leaving holes in the ceiling over their classrooms.
"We made an attempt through our insurance carrier to rectify, seek their assistance and rectify the problem. They denied our claim which led to additional damage," says Criner.
But the damage hasn't stopped Criner from starting over again, hosting community dinners every 3rd and 5th Sunday of the month in an effort to raise funds for the repair. Next month, new life will begin to breath into Holman Heritage Community Center. A new roof, a new start once again.
"As those who went before us did for us, we can do that for the ones coming behind us and that's the reason behind our effort here," says Criner.
Renovations for Holman School are expected to cost more than a million dollars. Criner says so far with donations from all over the community and grants, they have raised almost half of the money. Right now, Holman School is listed as the 9th most endangered historic place in Arkansas.