WENDELL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Growing up in the segregated Jim Crow South was life as Katie Harris Jones knew it. At 92 years old, she attended the old Carver School.
"The Whites and Blacks ...I knew what was happening, but that's just what it was," she said.
Education was valuable to her parents, who had 13 children. Her father couldn't read or write but was a successful tobacco farmer.
"It was a beautiful school. We had hardwood floors. It was new really," said Jones.
For years, the old Carver School sat idle, deteriorating. Through the years, the building's paint chipped away and overgrown vines covered parts of the structure. Storms damaged the roof by ripping shingles from it.
"I've been marking my calendar for this day today. Lot of work has gone into this project and to me today makes it real," said Wendell Mayor Virginia Gray. "The new and improved Carver Center will be enhanced to bring equity to a part of Wendell that has not benefitted from growth happening in other parts of town."
Town leaders announced $2 million in federal funding to preserve the historic structure and turn it into the Pleasant Grove Community Center.
"This part of Wendell has historically been forgotten," said Pleasant Grove Baptist Church pastor Asa Bell Jr.
According to Bell, the church bought the property from Wake County in 2007. He told ABC11 that the goal is to gut the inside but preserve the outside. He said Wake County and the Town of Wendell have also committed to funding a couple of million dollars toward the project.
"That process will include meeting with the community to see what the community finds and needs in regards to the building," he said.
Elders like Katie Harris Jones look forward to seeing the rich history of the school preserved.
"It's going to benefit not only my family, but it would be wonderful to pass there and know it's going to benefit others and to be put to use," she said.