New film about Jewish temple could help restore Morris Brown Col - CBS46 News

New film about Jewish temple could help restore Morris Brown College's Fountain Hall

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Fountain Hall is a symbol of pride and progress at Morris Brown College.

The former multi-use academic building, erected in 1882, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its clock tower sits at the highest point overlooking the City of Atlanta.

Fountain Hall is also in desperate need of repair.

"Students walked out of here at the end of the semester in 2003 not really knowing what was going to happen," said Morris Brown College President Stanley Pritchett. "Since that time the building has completely been closed down, shut down, no power," he explained.

A few floors under the famous clock tower, was once home to the office of civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. Dubois. It's where he wrote many of his now-famous works. The school hopes to restore the office to replicate it back to its original form.

Pritchett was asked to take over the school after it lost accreditation following financial impropriety from a past president. The enrollment dropped from 2,500 students to just under 100 students now. The school offers only three Bachelor of Arts degrees: Psychology, Organizational Management and Leadership, and Music.

Pritchett said welcoming in students is a challenge because they are not eligible for federal aid, yet he says more than 2,000 students applied last year.

"One of the things that we have overcome in these 15 years is we've never closed our doors," Pritchett said. "But, we need people. We need organizations. We need companies that can understand the need for trying to support institutions and help give us a hand up versus even hand out. We do need an investment in the institution from those that can help as we work toward making sure we can carry out the vision and mission of this great institution," Pritchett continued.

Thanks to the power of Google, filmmaker Arron Wolf learned about Morris Brown's story while he was making a film about the restoration of the abandoned Wilshire Boulevard Jewish Temple in Los Angeles, called "Restoring Tomorrow."

"It started as a restoration for my synagogue that I grew up in," Wolf said. "My grandfather was a rabbi. He escaped Nazi Germany," he added.

Much like Morris Brown, Wolf's synagogue faced an uncertain future.

"It was about to be sold to a church, become a swap meet or just go away, get torn down," Wolf said. "It was the will of the people, and the will of the congregation, in putting it back together. In the process it also restored me because I had disconnected from my place," Wolf said. 

He saw the two stories of struggle and triumph as intertwined. Two different communities; one shared hope not to give up fallen gems.

"This stands for so much progression, and we can't let a place like this go to waste," Wolf said. "In our movie, 'Restoring Tomorrow,' that's why we are premiering it here. I want people to see that what we did can happen here. You have to bring this back to its glory so that future generations see that this is a place that stands for progress and for hope and for pride in your culture."

"Restoring Tomorrow premieres this weekend in theaters. The movie will serve as a launch for the institution's capital campaign to restore Fountain Hall.

Pritchett estimates repairs could cost around $10 million.

The opening premiere is Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at The Regal Tara Theater, located at 2345 Chesire Bridge Road. There will be another screening Saturday, April 28.

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