ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — An Ashland high school celebrating its 50th birthday got its start from a $100,000 donation announced at a community meeting.

Documents related to the planning and opening of Paul Blazer High School during the civil rights movement are being donated to the Boyd County Public Library.

They show that the donor, former Ashland Oil President Paul G. Blazer, suggested using the donation to build a swimming pool at the school. The year was 1959, when desegregation was changing the public schools across the nation.

The files show there was a push to ensure the new pool would be racially integrated

The documents include Blazer's remarks at the school dedication in October 1962, correspondence from Blazer, handouts outlining the school's features, speeches by school officials, cost estimates from architects, bid analyses and other letters, memos, news clippings and pictures.

The documents languished in an Ashland Oil file for years and were recently loaned to The Independent ( by Blazer's grandson, Stuart Webb.

Some of the documents pertain to the school's swimming pool, which Blazer's $100,000 donation helped make possible. School board chairman F.S. Crawford announced it in 1959 to the Ashland Rotary Club, noting in his speech that Blazer wanted the money to pay for a pool but didn't insist that the board use it that way.

Blazer's note to the board offering them the money also is included.

Crawford's 1959 note to Blazer asks him to inform the board "the policy that should be followed with respect to the use of the facility by minority groups, since integration will be complete in our public schools by the end of another year or two."

In a two-page 1959 letter to Blazer, Booker T. Washington High School principal C.B. Nuckolls writes, "I am a strong adherent that the Implementation of the Supreme Court was to give my people equal educational opportunities," and continues to point out that the pool would be "an educational program designed for good health under the courses of Health and Physical Education."

Booker T. Washington was Ashland's black grade and high school during the segregation era.

The district had decided to name the school after Blazer more than a year before he made the pool donation; Blazer's three-paragraph note of thanks is included in the file.

Other correspondence relates to further donations Blazer made through the Stuart Blazer Foundation. Stuart Blazer was his son, killed in Korea during the Korean war.

His donations helped pave roads accessing the school, buy and install a communications system, and endow a fund for extracurricular activities.

A financial analysis in 1960 showed that building the school would cost about $2.5 million. Current Ashland Superintendent Steve Gilmore estimates building it now would cost at least 10 times that much, probably more.


Information from: The Independent,