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Brownsville Aldermen vote to preserve historic Flagg Grove School

April 10, 2012

The former Flagg Grove School, located in the Nutbush community of Haywood County, Tenn., had been used as a barn for the last 40 years. Owner Joe Stephens stands in front of the building that will soon be moved to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. Plans for the school includes interpretive exhibits about African-American education as well as a Tina Turner exhibit. Turner attended the school in the 1940s.

BROWNSVILLE TN: Flagg Grove School, in the Nutbush community, is one of only a few remaining African-American schoolhouses in Haywood County. The Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday evening to help preserve the school where music legend Tina Turner once attended grade school, by funding its move to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Once at the Center, the school will be restored and become a part of the Center's permanent exhibits.

The one room school has significant historical value for the community and can be tied directly to Turner's ancestry. The land the school is built on was bought from Benjamin Flagg in 1889. Flagg was a former slave who came from North Carolina after the Civil War. He was also the brother of George Flagg, Turner's great-grandfather. The school closed in the 1960s and has since been used as a barn.

"Ideally, we would love to preserve Flagg Grove School on its original acre of ground," explains Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark, "but since this is not possible, it just makes sense to move it where it can be restored and seen by the most people."

The building, along with other artifacts found in the school, is being donated to the Center by local restaurateurs Pam and Joe Stephens. "Pam and I wanted to save the building," says Stephens. "It's an important piece of Haywood County history." The building has been owned by the Stephens family since the late 60s.

Moving the school to the Center ties directly to the mission of the Center which is to promote the heritage of the region and increase tourism in rural West Tennessee. "The school will become an integral part in telling our story," says Clark, "especially where education and music are concerned in Haywood County."

Regarding the efforts to save the school and open it to the public, Tina Turner commented: " I'm pleased to know that children from around the world, who stop at the Visitor's Center in Brownsville, will be able to visualize what it was like growing up during the era of my childhood."

While the City will fund the initial move, the preservation work will continue through fundraising --efforts of the Friends of the Delta Heritage Center; a non-profit group who supports the work of the Center. Anyone wishing to help with these efforts can contact the Center at 731-779-9000, or donations (check or money order) can be made payable to the Friends of the Center, P. O. Box 1358, Brownsville, TN 38012. The move

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