From the desk of the Executive Director, Emily Stuart
Last weekend, I walked the halls of Gateway Pet Guardians with our contractor. We brainstormed locations for an expanded laundry room, weighed the costs of redirected heating and plumbing and envisioned additional animal intake space. The permutations of a 54,000 square foot building are endless, especially in a blueprint that wasn’t designed to house animals, a veterinary clinic, a pet food distribution hub, a grooming spa, and the many other services we offer and hope to offer.
For much of our building’s life, it was a school. Looking at old floor plans, we see the adoption center was previously abuzz with preschoolers. Our dog playroom was a computer lab, our vet surgery suite a classroom. Artifacts remain- student desks and stainless steel cafeteria trays, mint green furniture with “property of” school district plaques, chalkboards and swing sets. Upon closure in 2016, the student body of Miles Davis Elementary School was 96 percent Black. Our building is a monument to Black education and Black excellence.
At the time of purchase in 2019, 725 N. 15th St. stood vacant. Now it bustles with people and pets alike – a lifesaving operation for hundreds of animals each year, and a resource destination for the community. Progress does not demand the erasure of history; it requires a thorough reading. As we continue to expand and renovate, room by room, the physical reminders of our origins as a school will fade. We commit ourselves as stewards of this building’s legacy so that its storied place in East St. Louis history will never be forgotten.
If you are a former student of Miles Davis Elementary School, we would love to hear your memories and share them on our website. We are seeking community input on the design of a permanent memorial to the school and the many lives it impacted.
Please contact Emily Stuart | firstname.lastname@example.org