Gala celebrates Richard Allen School

Renovation project of historic building gets boost with state and federal funding
February 9, 2023

Thanks to the Richard Allen School Coalition, a historic Georgetown African American school has been saved and is undergoing renovation.

Members of the coalition gathered Feb. 4 at the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown during their annual gala to raise funds, bestow honors on supporters and also celebrate the school's history, which dates back to the late 1920s.

Last year was a big year for the coalition, as it received $1 million from the state’s Community Reinvestment funding, thanks to the efforts of Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown), Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) and Sen. Dave Wilson (R-Lincoln) and another $100,000 in federal Community Project Funding from U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del).

The coalition plans to use the money to replace half of the school's roof and install a new HVAC system this year.

The school was one of 80 African American schools funded by philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont in the early 20th century to address a need for better education.

It became the focal point of the African American community in Georgetown until it was closed in 1967, then became part of the Indian River School District until it was deeded to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.

Thanks to the efforts of Pettyjohn and Briggs King, legislation was passed to allow the Boys & Girls Clubs to transfer the deed to the coalition Aug. 12, 2015.

The coalition's goal is to commemorate the long history and restore the school to once again be the cultural, civic and educational center in the community.

During the gala, coalition President Jane Hovington presented special awards to Pettyjohn, King and Wilson for leading the effort to get state money, and to U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, who helped secure a $100,000 grant.

Recognition awards were presented to the following: Bettye Bellamy, who began her 37-year teaching career at the school; Virginia Cottman, who attended the school four years; George Williams, who attended the school in the sixth grade; Lonnie Stanford, a lifelong Georgetown resident who attended Richard Allen and went on to Sussex Central High School; and Larry Coverdale, another lifelong Georgetown resident who attended the school for three years.

Board and founding member Ivan Neal served as master of ceremonies, Kendra Neal read a poem she had written, and music was provided by Taylor's Musical Creation, headed by Christy Taylor, another board member.

The guest speaker was Leonard Lucas, an accomplished attorney who can trace his roots to the Ingram family, who are part of the foundation of the school. He attended Richard Allen and is a graduate of Sussex Central High School, University of Tennessee School of Law and Vanderbilt University. Included on his long resumé is serving as assistant general counsel at the U.S. General Services Administration. He is owner of a law firm in Nashville, Tenn.


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