Reward increases for info leading to arson arrest

(WMC-TV) – A historic school in Hardeman County was the target of an arsonist.  The reward for information leading to an arrest of the person responsible is now up to $7,500.

The old Allen White High School was built in 1929 with help from the Julius Rosewald fund. It was the only African-American school in the area until Hardeman County integrated in 1970.

Evelyn Robertson, Jr., wrote a book about the school. He is a member of the class of 1959. His last name is even in the cornerstone, because his family helped to build it.

"A lot of sweat, tears, a lot of equity has gone into this particular establishment," said Robertson.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, the building caught fire. Investigators say it was no accident.

"It appears to be arson," said Whiteville Police Chief Steve Stanley. "There was no electricity to the building and there were no storms in the area at the time of the fire."

Whiteville police have been canvassing the neighborhood, searching for clues about a suspect who remains on the loose after ruining a landmark.

The Allen White school building is on the national register of historic places.

Robertson is among a group that had been raising money to turn it into a museum. Restoration and rehabilitation was scheduled to begin within weeks.

"To see it in its present state, it's a sad day in Whiteville, Tennessee," said Robertson.

Robertson says the group wants to re-build but that might not be possible.

If you know who may have started the fire, contact Whiteville Police at 1-800-762-3017.

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