History of Gillespie Park School: Roots of Transformation
Colonel Daniel Gillespie, born in Frederick County, Virginia in 1743, and his older brother, John, joined the Regulator movement in North Carolina to protest and oppose crooked tax collectors appointed by the Royal Governor, William Tryon. Like many Regulators, Daniel later joined the rebellion against England during the Revolutionary War. He participated in the Battle of Alamance, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and the Siege at Yorktown, where the British forces led by General Cornwallis surrendered to the American and French forces led by General George Washington. Gillespie returned to Guilford County and purchased land in what is today downtown Greensboro. He was elected to numerous offices, including the North Carolina House of Commons and the State Senate. He also served on the committee that wrote the state constitution and served in the convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1789.A small white wooden building opened in 1903 and was named South Buffalo School for the nearby creek. It served between 30-40 students. As student enrollment increased, Guilford County built a new brick building which opened in 1916. That same year, Reverend Eugene E. Gillespie deeded 3.28 acres of land to the county for the school. Gillespie and his wife re-deeded the land in 1926 to the Greensboro School Board, which had taken over administration of the school. A three-story brick building was completed in 1929 and named Gillespie Park Junior High School in memory of Dr. Gillespie's great-grandfather Colonel Daniel Gillespie.
Following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court, Greensboro's School Board announced that it would begin plans to desegregate some of its schools. In the summer of 1957, the board approved six African-American students to attend its white schools. One would attend Senior High School. The other five were assigned to Gillespie Park, which was an elementary and junior high school.Harold Davis, Brenda Florence, Jimmy Florence, Daniel Herring, and Elijah Herring, Jr. (above) became the first African-American students in North Carolina to attend a white school when they attended Gillespie Park's orientation on September 3, 1957. The school closed in 1992 and its three-story brick building that housed the Junior High was demolished. The remaining building was renovated and opened as a new elementary school in August 2003.