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East Side school sitting idle

EMPTY SCHOOL: The former East Side Elementary School sits on North Haugh Avenue and is considered the oldest facility owned by the Picayune School District. Photo by Ashley Collins.

EMPTY SCHOOL: The former East Side Elementary School sits on North Haugh Avenue and is considered the oldest facility owned by the Picayune School District. Photo by Ashley Collins.

Once a place where students’ laughter and footsteps could be heard echoing through the halls, the former East Side Elementary School now sits vacant on North Haugh Avenue, reminding the community of days gone by.

The former elementary school is considered the oldest facility owned by the Picayune School District, said Brent Harrell, the district’s assistant superintendent.

“We’re currently not using it because it would take a lot of renovation in order for us to use it. And, it’s too small to operate as an elementary school,” Harrell said.

Built during the 1920s, the former elementary school houses eight large classrooms and an auditorium. It originally served first through sixth graders living in the east part of the district.

The school was closed for several years and reopened in order to handle the overflow from Roseland Park and Nicholson elementary schools.

Over the years, the school held different identities. It was originally called the East Side Elementary School and then was renamed as the Bertie Rouse Elementary School in honor of a former principal. When the building officially closed in the 1980s, it was known as East Side, Harrell said.

Harrell said the building is beyond repair due to damage caused by old age and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

However, the building serves as a historical landmark, listed in the historical register during the early 2000s, Harrell said.

The building doesn’t just add historical value to Picayune, but is also occasionally used by the district for storage. The building is located in front of the district’s maintenance and food services annex, built in the 1950s.

“Right now, we’re not in need of additional classroom space, but it will probably be cheaper to build a new building than to renovate it,” Harrell said.

For now, the building serves as a memory for students who roamed its halls years ago.