Cocoa to take ownership of historic landmark



COCOA, Fla. - The city of Cocoa has plans to take ownership of a historic building that's been a landmark for 90 years.

The Harry T. Moore Center began as Cocoa Junior High School, the city's first black school.

Now, the Cocoa Housing Authority is giving away the building on Blake Avenue, but WFTV found out the deal may still cost the city.

After 90 years, children are still being educated inside the halls of the Harry T. Moore Center, named for a pioneer of the civil rights movement.

Even before its role as a child development center, the building was home to Cocoa Junior High School.

Deputy Mayor Clarence Whipple said, "The African-American students were housed out of this building during the time of segregation. As time passed, integration came about."

Eventually, the building came to be owned by the Cocoa Housing Authority.  After HUD took control of the agency last year, a decision was made to transfer ownership of the historic building.

"A building like this, as you can tell, has some repair work that needs to be done, and it's beyond our resources," Cocoa Housing Authority Dir. Herb Hernandez said.

The building is valued at roughly $200,000, but the city estimates it needs in excess of $100,000 in repairs for everything from its aging heating and cooling system, to possible termite damage.         

Whipple, who attended school there, said the expenses do not have to be paid out all at once.

"There can be other sources of revenue through grants and that's what we're going to do," said Whipple.

The hope is that the building so steeped in history can now be part of the city's revitalization.

The city is expected to take ownership of the building on Feb. 3.

Once that happens, discussions can begin on how to best use the facility.