Mourners pay last respects to Adams Elementary
After word spread that Adams Elementary in central Beaumont was being torn down, community members started stopping by, some staring in disbelief and others sharing memories of a gathering place that had always been a staple of the community.
Wayne Daniels, who went to school at Adams and whose father the Rev. G.W. Daniels initiated the purchase of the school from Beaumont Independent School District in the 1950s, said he saw a part of his father being destroyed with the building.
The community’s children were always important to G.W. Daniels and that’s why he wanted to buy the school at 1250 Calder Ave. and start a preschool — saving it from demolition by the city, his son said.
“Education is the one thing they can’t take away from you is what he always told us,” Daniels said. Adams Elementary and later the preschool was the place for many African-American children in Beaumont to form a solid foundation for that education.
The Rev. James Barker Jr. came immediately after he heard the school was being torn down. His mom attended the school and grew up across the street — back when the blocks of central Beaumont off Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway were filled with shotgun houses and Adams was a vital community institution.
“My mind is empty,” the Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church pastor said. He later fondly recalled playing in the school’s gymnasium before and after attending Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church and going to events and dances hosted by the church in the gym.
Work tearing down Adams Elementary in south Beaumont began Wednesday with the demolition of the gym and asbestos abatement in the main building.
Coastal Demolition, which is doing the work, anticipates beginning demolition on the main building mid-Thursday or Friday.
Adams was built in 1929 as one of Beaumont’s segregated schools.
After BISD sold the school to the church, it ran a preschool in the building for several years before leasing it as a charter school and using the gymnasium for various church events.
Despite sitting largely vacant for nearly a decade, providing temporary shelter for transient residents within the past three years, the building still is revered by the community. Several people stopped by Wednesday to look as work began, reminiscing about playing there during church or attending classes when it was still running as a school.
They set out to alert their friends and neighbors of the approaching demolition.