Residents gather for opening of Walter Brewer Bemis community center
BEMIS, Tenn. — A dedication ceremony was held in Bemis Saturday for the opening of the Walter Brewer Bemis Community Center.
The Center was first known as the West Bemis Rosenwald School built in 1916, the school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the early 1900’s Julius Rosenwald provided grants and plans for the construction of over 5,000 school buildings for African American education, a partnership between Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington.
“To see that it goes back in to use and they have done such a tremendous job at restoring the building actually,” said Billy King, a resident of Bemis.
In 1916 the original cost of the school was $3,900, $400 came from the Rosenwald Fund, $1500 came from the public and $2,000 from the Bemis citizens. The West Bemis Rosenwald School is one of the oldest in Tennessee and as of Saturday is known as the Walter Brewer Bemis Bommunity Center.
“We are so thankful that this has come to pass and we are just excited about this day,” said Ida Smith, Director of WBBCC.
Veda Hill, a student at the West Bemis Rosenwald School in the late 1940’s attended the ceremony.
“We just had two rooms at the time… sometimes just two teachers and sometimes the oldest student had to go in the kitchen and help cook. I enjoyed it when I did go here and I am thankful to be here today,” said Hill.
“This is going to be a great blessing to this community to have this community center here. I know God is going to use it in a special way to bless a lot of people,” said Pastor of West Bemis M.B Church, Walter Brewer.
Board members hope this new center will become a safe haven for children, a place for tutoring and a location for special events.
Walter Brewer became the pastor 17 years ago when church was held at the Community Center.
Both Mayor Jerry Gist and County Mayor Jimmy Harris spoke at the ceremony.