State politicians pushing for funding for Christiansburg Institute restoration

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 7:57 PM EST
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The Christiansburg Institute (CI) was the first high school for Black students in southwest Virginia.

Its doors were open until 1966, but now, only one building still stands on the former 200-acre campus.

The Institute’s dream is to bring the Edgar Long Building back to life.

“We know that African-American history remains significantly under-preserved,” Christiansburg Institute Executive Director Chris Sanchez said. “We want people to know about the story of CI; we want people to know about Edgar A. Long and this, this world that existed in southwest Virginia for a century.”

“This is national history we’re talking about,” Former Christiansburg Institute Student Debbie Sherman-Lee said. “Not just Virginia history, or southwest Virginia history.”

To help with the restoration efforts, state politicians Del. Jason Ballard (R) and Sen. John Edwards (D) have introduced budget appropriations for $1 million each.

“We contacted Senator Edwards’ office and Delegate Jason Ballard’s office and kind of shared the story about CI and asked for them to champion helping us to restore this building back into life,” Sanchez said

If both appropriations pass, $2 million will be headed to this project.

“I want to see this get to the finish line because number one, I went to Christiansburg Institute and there are so many elders that are out there that want to see this done,” Sherman-Lee said. I want to see this done for them and for me.”

In total the Institute projects the entire project to cost around $10 million.

This potential $2 million will go to restoring all of the windows, exterior doors and brick repairs.