He plans to tear down old school, remove cement and build new cultural and educational center on the grounds
It looks like the days are numbered for the old Herod High School located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Abbeville.
For 66 years, the only black high school in Abbeville has slowly been going downhill. 2021 could be the year the building is torn down.
In 1955, the brick Herod High School was built in Abbeville. First grade through 12th-grade students attended. The school eventually closed in 1970 due to desegregation, and the African American students who attended Herod were sent to schools throughout the parish.
By the mid-1970s, the old Herod High was turned into a school for fourth and fifth-grade public school students. By 1990, Herod was closed, and the old East Abbeville Elementary was renamed Herod Elementary.
Since Herod closed, different citizens have tried to turn the facility into a community center. But over time, the building has been deteriorating.
The Vermilion Parish Police Jury now owns the building and wants it off its hands, so they put it up for sale. The highest bidder would be awarded the school and land.
Cathy Walker, who attended Herod High School in the late 1960s, gave it her all to try to save the old school. She spoke to the Abbeville City Council, the School Board, and the Police Jury in hopes they would invest in the old building and turn it into a community center.
But no one seemed interested in repairing the historic building. Walker even attempted to buy the building and was awarded the building after submitting the highest bid of around $30,000.
Thirty days later, after being awarded the bid, she was not able to come up with the money.
The Police Jury canceled Walker’s bid and then went with the second-highest bid. Pastor Walter August was the winning bidder.
Kathy Walker told the jurors she hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit against the Herod School’s sale.
“I am trying everything possible to keep the old school from being torn down,” said Kathy Walker. “This is part of Abbeville’s history.”
Pastor August, who has a church in Houston but is from Abbeville, addressed the police jury and understood Walker’s compassion for the school. The school will be torn down, and Pastor August plans to spend millions building a new 50,000 square foot educational and cultural center.
“My heart is in Vermilion Parish,” said Pastor August. “That corner (where the old Herod school is located) needs a facelift to inspire these kids. Crime is at an all-time high in that area.”
Pastor August said the new center’s construction would be a Vermilion Parish endeavor, and the facility will be a “bright spot” for Abbeville. He said the old facility is in too bad a shape to try and save.
August gave no timeline as to when construction will begin on the new facility. Contractors have already started visiting the old Herod school to determine the cost of tearing it down and hauling it away.
Originally published by the Abbeville Meridional, 1/11/21