Open house planned for historic Carver League Building on Saturday 

With help from Pittsburg State University’s Office of Student Diversity, and coordinated by two PSU alumni, a come-and-go open house is planned from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the historic Carver League Building at 1007 S. Elm. 

The date of the open house was chosen in observance of the federal Juneteenth holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, which is June 19.  

Historic images will be on display, and those involved will provide an informal explanation of Phase 1 as well as the vision and future phases — including an emphasis on inclusion. At 2 p.m., local musician Lem Sheppard will play. 

In 1951, the Carver League — named after the great educator, innovator, and botanist George Washington Carver — purchased a plot of land just north of the campus and began construction of the Carver League Building.   

The purpose: to provide a place for social activities for Black students and Black residents who were denied membership in many community groups and organizations.   

It was there that they held picnics, game nights, hot dog roasts, lectures, and movie screenings. They also participated in charity work.   

Members aged, the times changed, the building closed.   

In 2009, an all-class reunion was held, the highlight of which was visiting the Carver League building for a brief party hosted by the PSU Office of Student Diversity. 

The building had become dilapidated after a few decades of non-use and back taxes were owed. After the reunion, a graduate paid them. Then, more years passed, more taxes accrued, and it was set to be sold by the county last summer.  

Graduate Donna Campbell Brice (BS ‘68) campaigned to save it, and Chris Goodwin and Stacy Butcher (both Class of 2002), eventually joined by Ishmael Elkamil (BBA ‘12), began coordinating the effort. 

Donors from the community stepped up to fund it, and the School of Construction signed on. Professor Jim Otter found a project manager: Zachary Bures, a senior in Construction Management. He spent the entire academic year overseeing local subcontractors on a complete gutting and restoration of the building. 

Students in the PSU Chapter of the Associated General Contractors — Bures was the president — volunteered their time and talent. 

Carver League 2

Now, Goodwin and Butcher said, it’s ready to be used by the community and to preserve history in a way that’s sustainable. 

“This country is the greatest country in the world, but we have our issues, too, and we just need to work together to continue to educate and focus on inclusion,” Butcher said. “I love Pittsburg, there is something special about Pittsburg that keeps you here, that kept my family here. This is our gift to Pittsburg.”

Read more about the renovation project.