Whitesboro School Gets Exterior Makeover

AC JosepH Media

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The historic Whitesboro School building  will get a fresh look through a new contract awarded by Middle Township.

The Township Committee passed a resolution at its Monday meeting to award a contract of up to $26,750 to Cape May Painting. The painting project will refresh the school building in the historically Black community of Whitesboro that operated from 1910 to 1967. The nonprofit Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro uses the building for its headquarters through a partnership established with the Township in 2018.

Cheryl Spaulding, program administrator for the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro, expressed appreciation for the exterior work on the school building at the Oct. 5 Township Committee meeting.

“On behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro and Bernie Blanks, I just want to thank you guys for moving it along to paint the building,” she said.

The Historic Whitesboro School stands at the end of Main Street near Route 9 – just down the block from the new Whitesboro Post Office that opened over the summer.

“I’m happy to announce that we are moving forward with this much needed work on the historic Whitesboro School House,” Middle Township Mayor Tim Donohue said. “To honor the decades of good work done here, we want the building to remain a vibrant asset for our community. We are honored to partner with the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro to drive that mission forward.”

The exterior of historic Whitesboro School. Photo courtesy of Laura Bishop Communications

The school building is a piece of living history that dates nearly to the founding of Whitesboro at the start of the 20th century. Dr. George H. White, a Black Congressman from North Carolina, helped create the town as a haven for Blacks to own and farmland, and find their own sense of community. Within several years, Whitesboro developed to include two churches, a railroad station, a post office, and a hotel.

The township, with the support of the Cape May County NAACP and U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, is lobbying to have the new Post Office named for White, who served as a Republican from 1897-1901, and was the last African American in Congress until 1929.

White’s daughter, Mamie Adelyne White, was one of the school’s first teachers. Some current community members, including Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro President Bernie Blanks Sr., attended the school, which was originally known as Whitesboro Grammar School.

Bernie Blanks

Both the township and state have stepped in to maintain the historic 110-year-old building over the years. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs awarded $1.2 million in grants in 2004 to repair the school’s windows, roof and heating system, remove lead and asbestos, and build new bathrooms. The Township’s Public Works Department contributed the labor to complete those projects.

The school building was previously used by Cape Human Resources as a social services complex. The space was also once considered as a location for the Post Office.

Plaque at the historic Whitesboro School. Photo courtesy of Laura Bishop Commuunications

When the building became available, the township saw an opportunity to partner with the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro for a community use. The nonprofit group runs several programs to serve residents, including a food pantry and a homework club. The township’s Recreation Department added a community garden on the grounds in 2018.

As the revitalization of the old Whitesboro Grammar School continues, its history is noted by a marker “in remembrance” of former teachers and other staff members.

The plaque also include includes a quote from George Washington Carver: “Education is the key to unlock the golden door to freedom.”

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