The town of Jonesborough will dedicate its new McKinney Cultural Arts Center at Booker T. Washington School at an open house reception with the McKinney family at 1 p.m. Friday.
Guests of honor will include Marion McKinney, widow of the late Ernest McKinney, a Washington County and Johnson City educator who early in his career served as principal of the segregation-era school for Jonesborough’s African-American students and later became the first African-American elected to Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Washington County School Board.
Marion McKinney is also a former educator having served as a teacher and a guidance counselor in Washington County schools.
The McKinneys’ sons, Kevin, who followed his father in his election as a Jonesborough alderman before becoming the first African-American elected town mayor, and Ernest L. “Buttons” McKinney Jr., and other McKinney family members will also be among the honored guests.
The program will include a review of the contributions made by the McKinneys and by the late Mary B. Martin and her husband, James, whose financial support allowed the town to establish the center’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts.
Speakers will include Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Alderman Adam Dickson and Town Administrator Bob Browning. Refreshments will be served and tours of the building will be available.
“What’s been done to the building is something the people of Jonesborough can be proud of,” said Rachel Conger, director of the Jonesborough Parks and Recreation Department. “Coming in to see will be a great event.”
The two-year renovation of the 1940s school building that for many years had sat idle was completed earlier this fall. The center’s front parking area has since been concreted and landscaping of the grounds is under way.
Town Operations Director Craig Ford said the landscaping, placement of three signs designed to distinguish the building and its Mary B. Martin Arts Programs and the paving of the staff parking lot at the back of the building will be completed next week.
“We should be able to have it done by the dedication,” Ford said.