1920's Church Building in Danger

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

An old church schoolhouse built in the 1920's is at the center of a controversy in Apalachicola. Former students and Catholic nuns say they've tried everything to save the historic building, but have had no luck. Supporters are looking for nothing short of a miracle.

The old Holy Family Mission Church isn't open for mass anymore, and it doesn't have the flare of its now-integrated, formerly whites-only counterpart across town, but it's still heaven sent to Louis McCaskill and others.

For 25 cents a week, Louis McCaskill learned everything from first grade reading to eighth grade writing and math.

"She had a lot of problems on the blackboard, when I come back, she said, I want you have all those problems solved and I can divide better than I can do anything else," says Louis.

Marian Long also has fond memories of the nuns and her school. Soon memories and these pictures may be all that's left of Holy Family. The Catholic Church powers-that-be say it's too expensive to fix the building's moldy interior and to pay for its insurance.

Integration made this building less necessary, but no less historic. Hundreds of black children have been educated here between the late 1920's and about 1960 it was the best education available to them at the time.

"It's historic. Blacks, we don't have anything up here that's historic. Only the Holy Family building there," says former student Marian Long.

Former Holy Family students were hoping that a government grant would pay for the building's restorations, but the grant went to another cause.


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