Discover / Rosenwald Schools
Save a National Treasure
REGION: South
LOCATION:
South, Southwest,
TYPE: Building
The Rosenwald Program improved education for African Americans in the South. | Photo: National Trust
The Rosenwald Program improved education for African Americans in the South. | Photo: National Trust
Opportunity
Save 100 Rosenwald Schools as vital hubs of community activity and revitalization.

Overview

In 1912, Booker T. Washington approached Julius Rosenwald, a board member at Tuskegee Institute and President of Sears, Roebuck and Company, with an idea to build six small schools in rural Alabama. The effort sparked a program providing seed grants for the construction of more than 5,300 buildings in 15 states, including schools, shops, and teachers' houses built by and for African Americans. In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled segregation in education unconstitutional, the schools became obsolete. Many Rosenwald Schools, once the pride of their communities, were neglected, abandoned, or demolished. In 2002, the National Trust named Rosenwald Schools to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

National Significance

The Rosenwald School building program is recognized as one of the most important partnerships to advance African American education in the early 20th century. Despite the schools' historic significance, only a small percentage of Americans are familiar with the iconic structures and their impact on our nation's history.

Campaign Goals

  • Educate Americans about the Rosenwald Schools, and inspire them to protect dozens more of the historic structures.
  • Develop training workshops so that grassroots groups can manage and maintain Rosenwald Schools in their own communities.
  • Develop resources for the preservation of Rosenwald schools.

Ways To Help

Donate to our campaign to save Rosenwald Schools.

Tell us why Rosenwald Schools matter to you.

Posted on August 22, 2014

Don't miss the field tour "Tell Them We Are Rising: from Industrial Training Schools to Brown vs. Board in Coastal Georgia" to be held Friday, November 14, at the National Preservation Conference in Savannah, Georgia. The tour will include a visit to Powell Hall, a Rosenwald School constructed in 1932 located on the campus of Savannah State University. For more on the tour, click here.

Please check back often for additional updates on Rosenwald Schools. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on August 19, 2014

Mississippi Heritage Trust recently honored four Rosenwald schools with 2014 Heritage Awards for restoration. Randolph School, Pass Christian; Prentiss Normal Institute, Prentiss; Walthall County Training School, Tylertown; and Bay Springs School, Hattiesburg were all recognized as preservation victories for the state of Mississippi. (Only 18 Rosenwald Schools remain in Mississippi out the 833 originally constructed there.)

Additionally, Randolph School received a second award in the preservation education category for a film called "The Resurrection of Randolph School."  For a closer look at the film, click here. Three of the recipients received grants from the National Trust as well.

Please check back often for additional updates on Rosenwald Schools. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

Posted on August 14, 2014

Smithsonian Magazine's July issue features "The Soul of the South" by travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux. The  section titled "The Gift" highlights the efforts of Julius Rosenwald and more specifically the commitment of Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO) and their efforts to rehabilitate Emory-Tunstall Rosenwald School in Greensboro, Alabama.

Through the Lowes Education and Charitable Fund, the National Trust assisted HERO by providing a grant in 2009 to support their reuse of this historic Rosenwald School.

"The Soul of the South" is part of a book being written by Theroux on the American South.

Please check back often for additional updates on Rosenwald Schools. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

exterior of Emory-Tunstall Rosenwald School in Greensboro, NC, before and after the HERO program helped restore the buildin
Exterior of Emory-Tunstall Rosenwald School in Greensboro, NC, before and after the HERO program helped restore the building.

Posted on February 12, 2014

If you are traveling this weekend to the NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, do you know who you will see? The National Trust, that’s who, with many thanks to our corporate supporter, Protégé, a company known for their quality footwear and apparel. Protégé is a brand dedicated to empowering and giving back to the community, which is why they are using the NBA All-Star weekend to bring awareness to the Trust’s Rosenwald Schools Centennial Grant fund. You can find the Trust logo accompanying Protégé’s advertising for the event on several billboards and posters throughout the city. Protégé will also be making a corporate donation to the Centennial Grant fund at the end of the event. Protégé products are sold in Sears and Kmart stores throughout the U.S.

Look for this billboard and other at locations throughout the city such as 1000 Poydras Street in downtown New Orleans near City Hall and the Convention Center.

 

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Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
Booker T. Washington High School South Boston VA
Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
South Boston Virginia Washington-Coleman Community Center Booker T. Washington High School
Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
Washington-Coleman South Boston VA
Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
Washington-Coleman South Boston Virginia
Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
The Booker T. Washington High School, 1930, was recently renovated as part of the Town of South Boston, Virginia Washington-Coleman Community Center. A classroom was dedicated as a museum room to preserve artifacts associated with the original school.
Ted Daniel on May 09, 2014
The Booker T. Washington High School, 1930, was recently renovated as part of the Town of South Boston, Virginia Washington-Coleman Community Center. A classroom was dedicated as a museum room to preserve artifacts associated with the original school.
Ray Brown on October 22, 2013
I have lived in Mitchellville, Maryland since 1978. There was an old wooden building with a lot of windows around the corner from my house. I thought that it might have been a storage building of some kind for the contractors who built the housing development in which I live. I didn't give it much thought when the building was torn down in the 1980s. I learned only last week from my elderly neighbor, the building was her school in the 1940s and 50s during segregation. My amazement turned to sadness. Why was this historic building and symbol not saved?
Dr. Edward L. Holmes on October 03, 2013
I attended the Parkers Ferry Elementary School from 1952-55? when the structure was closed and all students were transferred to Minnie Hughes Elementary School, Sughar Hill, SC. I recently found the former principal of that school still alive at the good age of 93. Ms Maud Adams Frazier. The other teachers; Helen Howard and Mrs Bryant, are now deceased. I have wonderful memories of the Parkers Ferry Elementary School.
Bernice Jackson on October 01, 2013
I would like to see this school building restored back to the point of construction in 1924 - I believe with the research that has been done over several years, this school may well be one of the Rosenwald school. In 1924, the only documented Rosenwald school building in Cave Spring, GA. is erectedon Padlock Mountain. James B. Atwater is appointed by the Floyd County Board of Education as the first principal of the new school.
Melvyn Gillette on August 16, 2013
I am a 1957 graduate of Peake High School which is located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. It is now recognized as a Rosenwald school, but during my time there we did not hear about Rosenwald schools. Our school has been refurbished and will be used for some elementary grades. I was "back home" a few weeks ago and toured the school and it was exciting to see the changes, although some of us longed for the good old days.
Carol White on May 29, 2013
I am Carol White, the great-grandaughter of John White of Forrest County, MS. He and Mr. Rosenwald opened the John White School and Teacher's home in 1927 in Maxie, MS. I am currently working on a film about the impact this accomplishment had on our family. I would also love to hear from anyone else who has a connection to or attended the John White school. I have uploaded a photo of my great-grandfather that was given to me by my father before he died (my father and his siblings attended the school).
Billy King on April 04, 2013
There is a Rosenwald School in Bemis, Tennessee a mill town that is on the National Register. It is in fair shape and needs to be saved.
Tracy Hayes on March 12, 2013
In Mississippi check with the State Historic Preservation Office, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and inquire about their grant programs. For National Trust grant opportunities see http://www.preservationnation.org/resources/find-funding/
Vicki Yates on March 11, 2013
I believe I found a rosenwald school it is for sale at 9775 Patterson rd rockvale Tn it is online I checked it out it needs alot of work but would love to see it saved
Antoinette M Stewart on September 27, 2012
Over the past 4yrs I and my research partner have worked to save a 2rm school in Jefferson Cty,MS. When starting the research we found the school on the Fisk Univ.List. During the research process we found that the $'s set aside was stolen by the superintendent of Negro Schools. The school is currently still standing but is in need of serious repairs. We are considered a Rosenwald Ghost School because the needed changes were not made due to the theft. We are in the process of trying to raise $150,000. to restore this most historic structure. Our website is:http://poplarhillschool.webs.com
Floyzell Stevenson on August 19, 2012
Please visit our school and community at www.pleasanthilltexas.org.
Mabel Dickey, Mars Bluff, South Carolina on July 02, 2012
Julius Rosenwald was an exceptional person to see the need for the African American people. Even though legislation was passed and you were supposed to educate African American children, there was no one to enforce the law. So I think it's important for children to learn more about the Julius Rosenwald Foundation and the schools that are still standing – and even the ones that have been torn down – just to get the history. Everyone should look at education and where we came from.
Bennie Boyd on June 29, 2012
The Brooklyn Rosenwald,constructed in 1928-1929 school may be the only Rosenwald School still standing in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. It was built near on land adjoining Brooklyn CME church in Chesnee, South Carolina in the rural northeastern part of Spartanburg county. The church gained ownership of the school and maintained it for many years until 2009 when the church no longer had the money to make repairs. The roof in caving in and rain poors through the roof. An effort was made two years ago to try to get the school on the National Historic Register and get emergency aid to repair the roof but there was resistance. We need help. The church has no money to maintain the school building. If nothing is done this national historic treasure will be lost to Spartanburg county and the nation forever.
Brent Leggs, Boston, MA on June 09, 2012
Traveling to central Kentucky to visit my grandmother, I remember passing old, wooden school houses in need of a fresh coat of paint, weeds removed from their interiors, and at least 1,000 prayers to bring life back to them. But when I realized these schools were Booker T. Washington's vision for educating blacks following Reconstruction, they became testimonials. Each place had a story. These structures began communicating the power of education for removing racism and inequalities in America. When I see these places, I try to imagine how a man born into slavery could become the first African American invited to the White House, establish a premiere academic institution (Tuskegee University), write his own autobiography, and help to build over 5,000 schools in 15 southern states. I hope they are all saved, so the next generation of Americans can be inspired to make a difference in their communities.
Frederick Calhoun James, Prosperity, SC on June 09, 2012
The greatest days of my life were at Howard Junior High School in Prosperity, SC. Those were my days of discovery. The days of my impression making with regards to anything that was important later in my life.
T. Hall, Pomaria, SC on June 09, 2012
I’ve been involved with the Hope School, a two-teacher Rosenwald School built in 1925, all my life. When I was a child, I remember St. Paul’s AME church next door was a historic building also, but they tore it down. I couldn’t do anything about it because I was five or six years old. But, I just thank God he put it back upon my heart to try to save the Hope School. I just feel so great. I am so excited every day when I talk about it. I feel I did something for the community and I want to give back to the community. When people call to use the school to have a graduation dinner, or anything, it makes me feel good inside because I love doing this work for the community.

Campaign Overview

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