LaFayette Main Street to celebrate 1-year anniversary with open house

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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As the Educator Portraits of Honor month comes to an end, LaFayette Main Street has more in store for downtown LaFayette. 

On June 16, LaFayette Main Street will be hosting an open house at its office at the old Hightower building to celebrate the one-year anniversary that the city has been a designated Main Street community. 

Since then, LMS surveys indicate the community has reflected renewed optimism and civic pride. Two new businesses relocated to the area, and 11 new jobs have been generated. Over 1000 volunteer hours have been logged throughout the year as well. 

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“We have been able in this one year, to do some really great things downtown — the Food Truck Festival, our portraits of honor — engaging our community to really have growth and revitalization,” said LaFayette Main Street DeAnna Hand. 

LaFayette Main Street is also holding a Market Analysis Public Presentation on June 29 at the First Baptist Church in LaFayette. Data from the surveys done by individuals and businesses will be analyzed. 

“This is stemming from the surveys that we put out and asked individuals and businesses to participate in,” Hand said. “So we could gather the feedback and the voice of what citizens want to see happen.”

Throughout the month of May, LaFayette Main Street honored educators of the area with their Portraits of Honor display. 

“With May being a month to celebrate our graduates, I really felt that it was an appropriate time to honor our educators who have impacted so many students throughout history,” Hand said. “And these educators were instrumental and shaping the future of many students here in LaFayette.”

The project honors individuals in the community as well as puts a spotlight on the historic buildings on display downtown. For the last month of the project, LaFayette Main Street will be showcasing LaFayette Legacies. A LaFayette Legacy is an individual who has left a lasting impact on the city. The deadline is May 29.

The educators honored this month were Larry East, Ella Mae Ware Gresham, Catherine Crook, John Perry Powell, Elisha Handy, Resa Fant Ison and Dr. Alma Freeman. 

East, born in Tallapoosa County, got a degree in education at Jacksonville State University. He taught at LaFayette High School. Eventually, he became the assistant principal of LHS. He was also headmaster of Chambers Academy.

Gresham, born and raised in LaFayette, taught elementary school for forty years for Chambers County School District. In 1968, she was chosen as one of the first African American teachers to begin the integration of the schools in LaFayette. 

Crook taught at several schools in Chambers County including Liberty, Riverview, Hopewell, Philip High School, Five Points High School, Lafayette High School and Valley High School. She was among the first Black teachers to integrate schools in Chambers County. 

Powell began teaching at Langdale School in 1949. He became the principal of Chambers County Training School in 1954. In 1999, Powell was honored at a ceremony in which the school was renamed the J.P. Powell Middle School. 

Handy, a gifted mathematician, moved to LaFayette in 1925. While he was principal, Chambers County Training School was rated “one of the best schools in the State and the second largest in point of enrollment,” according to the LaFayette Sun. 

Ison taught at LaFayette High School, Five Points, Tallapoosa Academy and Chambers Academy throughout her career. Her favorite subjects were accounting and typing. She was an active member of the community and remained in LaFayette after retirement.

Freeman, from LaFayette, taught at Chambers County Training School. After college, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for post-graduate study at Yale University and a Ford Foundation Fellowship for post-graduate study in African American literature at the University of Pennsylvania.