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 February 04, 2015

Yes, you read that correctly. Starting in February you can register for the 2015 National Rosenwald Schools Conference. Click here to get a glimpse of what we have planned, where you can stay, and how to register. What? Oh, you want to know more about the complimentary gift. 

One of our generous local conference partners, The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau are providing 50 gifts, selected especially for conference attendees. If you are one of the first 50 paying registrants you will receive your gift at the onsite registration desk. 

Not sure the National Rosenwald Schools Conference is relevant to you? Then click here to see the just-released topics and talented presenters. Never has there been a stronger program of quality education sessions, lightning sessions and poster presentations applicable to the past and future of Rosenwald Schools. Session times have been included to help you plan your conference experience. 

Click here for lodging suggestions. Look for an email soon announcing the opening of conference registration! 

Sign up for 2015 National Rosenwald Schools Conference Updates

Posted on December 04, 2014

Excerpted from the Times and Democrat:

Washington asked Rosenwald if he would build six schoolhouses in rural Alabama to serve black communities where educational facilities were either substandard or nonexistent. Rosenwald agreed. In 2002, to heighten awareness of the threats to these historic resources, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald Schools to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Since then, the National Trust for Historic Preservation formed the Rosenwald Schools Initiative, organizing a team to develop a plan for the preservation of Rosenwald schools.

More about Rosenwald Schools >>

Read the full story >>

Posted on September 03, 2014

Rosenwald Schools Conference

Join us in Durham to experience: Hands-on Workshops and Demos, Documentaries, Educational Presentations, Field Tours, Poster Sessions, Exhibitors, Networking Opportunities, and Book Signings. To receive conference updates and future mailings enter your contact information at: www.preservationnation.org/rosenwald

Click here to propose a conference session 

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.

 

Protege flyer
Posted on May 28, 2013

Shady Grove Rosenwald School Written by Katherine Carey, Editor of Rosenwald School National Treasure E-News

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to announce the first recipients of the Rosenwald School Centennial Fund. This new grant program provides bricks and mortar project funding for Rosenwald schools. This initial round of funding provided seven grants totaling $96,150 to schools in four states.

Following is a list of funded projects: 

•$10,000 to the Chattahoochee County Historic Preservation Society in Cusseta, GA, for the restoration of the Cusseta Industrial High School

•$8,000 to the Castalia Community Development Corporation in Castalia, NC, for the Castalia Rosenwald School

•$20,000 to CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development, Inc., for the Billingsville School in Charlotte, NC

•$13,150 to West Rowan Neighborhood of Cleveland, NC, for the R.A. Clement Rosenwald School

•$20,000 to Lincoln County for the Oaklawn Rosenwald School in Lincolnton, NC

•$20,000 to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Westminster, SC, for the Retreat Rosenwald School

•$5,000 to the Shady Grove School in Gum Spring, VA

Funding for this first round of Centennial Fund grants was provided by a gift to the National Trust from the Righteous Persons Foundation.

If you would like to be added to the Rosenwald School E-Newsletter and be the first to hear about grant opportunities, events and other Rosenwald Schools news, please send an email to Rosenwald@savingplaces.org. For more information on all grants available for Rosenwald School projects visit our grants page on the National Trust's main website.

 

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 April 25, 2013

Written by Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, Dean of the Library, Franklin Library, Fisk University

The Franklin Library at Fisk University announces the availability of two additional research collections on Julius Rosenwald and the rural Negro schools program.  The S. L. Smith Collection consists of the records of Samuel Leonard Smith (1875-1956), who was administrator, architect, author, and educator, and covers the period 1869-2007. In 1920 Smith established and directed the Julius Rosenwald Fund Southern Office in Nashville, Tennessee, where he revised community school plans, and helped to establish over 5,358 Rosenwald schools and over 10,000 libraries.  After the last Rosenwald School was built, the Eleanor Roosevelt School at Warm Springs, Georgia, Smith retired from the fund in 1937.  The collection includes activities of the Rosenwald fund, correspondence from many prominent educators and prominent leaders, clippings, publications, reports, writings, and miscellaneous items related to the fund. 

The Franklin Library also processed the Julius Rosenwald Fund Collection--Supplement No. 1-1918-1946. The supplement includes data on Rosenwald's life and work, correspondence, minutes, financial data, annual reports documenting aid to Negro schools (1940-42), and on a variety of subjects related to black people, including art, education, fellowships, politics, colleges and universities, housing, labor, hospitals, and health care professionals (medical, dental, and nursing). There are numerous blueprints, maps, and drawings of Rosenwald schools and hospitals. Many items in the collection are fragile.

Researchers who are interested in using the collections must contact Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, Dean of the Library, Franklin Library, Fisk University, Nashville, TN 37208, or email jcsmith@fisk.edu. The finding aids are not currently available online.

 

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 March 22, 2013

By Katherine Carey

Julia Bache, a sophomore at Kentucky Country Day School in Louisville, is working hard to earn the highest achievement in Girl Scouting – the Girl Scout Gold Award. Her project is concentrated on Rosenwald Schools. To date, she has written and presented a nomination for Buck Creek Rosenwald School for the National Register of Historic Places. Julia says, "at first, I thought the nomination process would be a straightforward history project, but I've also made some really nice connections and unexpected friendships with some of the former students, as well as with the owner of the school."

The Gold Award requires a seven-step project to solve a community problem or perform a public service. The final steps of the project require the incorporation of education and inspiration. As the education component of Ms. Bache's project, she is developing a Rosenwald School traveling exhibit for the state of Kentucky: Lessons From Rosenwald Schools: National Treasures. Julia plans to use oral histories she has collected through interviews with alumni of Buck Creek Rosenwald School in the traveling exhibit. "Before I started this project I had no idea that Rosenwald Schools even existed. Now I have the opportunity to tell others and want to make more people aware of these important places."

 

Posted on February 21, 2013

Written by Tracy Hayes, Project Manager

The National Trust is currently accepting applications for the new Rosenwald School Centennial Fund grant program. These grants in amounts of up to $20,000 are for the rehabilitation of Rosenwald Schools. They require a cash match. Interested applicants should click here to review the grant guidelines and eligibility criteria. The deadline for Rosenwald School Centennial Fund grants is April 15, 2013. The National Trust's Centennial Fund is made possible by a lead gift from the Righteous Persons Foundation.

The Rosenwald School Centennial Fund grant program honors the National Trust's commitment to help save 100 Rosenwald Schools as vital hubs of community activity and to inspire others to save dozens more. Constructed in Alabama, the first Rosenwald School opened in the spring of 1913.  For more history of Rosenwald Schools please 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 July 19, 2012

Written by Tracy Hayes, Project Manager

I’m Tracy Hayes, the National Trust’s project manager for the Rosenwald Schools National Treasure. So far, 2012 has been exciting and busy for our team. Topping the list of highlights and milestones is a unique meeting of the minds that I’d like to dedicate this first post to.

After nearly a year’s worth of planning with our partners in Alabama, we held the first National Rosenwald Schools Conference, 100 Years of Pride, Progress, and Preservation, at Tuskegee University – the place where the Rosenwald School movement all began. The 54 education sessions, documentary screenings, discussions, tours, and workshops delivered tailor-made information and support to groups saving and restoring historic Rosenwald Schools. Community groups, school alumni, Rosenwald and Washington descendants, historians, and preservationists comprised the more than 300 conference attendees representing 22 states. Speakers, including world-renowned poet, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni, drew in local attendees to events open to the public, swelling attendance to over 400 by the closing session.

For those of us on the planning end, it was an extraordinary experience, worth every sleepless night and minute of overtime we put in to pull it off. But don’t just take it from me; our conference attendees say it best:

“The atmosphere at the conference was one of great excitement and enthusiasm since so many attendees seemed to be alumni and/or those interested in saving a particular school. I also thought the range of topics, from bureaucratic process to Facebook/blog campaigns, were really interesting and more inclusive than your average conference.”

 “There is a rich heritage at Tuskegee that permeated the souls of many of us who were present.”

“Such a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and support was present. The sessions were just the right mix of beginner and more advanced level  a nice balance of history and technical information, too.”

“The things I learned at the National Rosenwald Schools Conference held at Tuskegee University were life changing. This was by far the best professional and personal development conference I have ever attended. The story of what Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington did for the world must be told.”

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.

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Robert L. Towns on March 15, 2015
Greetings I am a member of St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church of Raleigh NC and we have one of these schools on our church grounds I am interested in finding out more information on my school specifically. Please provide me with any information you may have. We are located in Wake Co. NC our school was built in 1922. I am a member of the restoration committee at church and interested in some historical data, it is one of the prototypical 2 room 2 teacher structures and is in need of some repair. Maybe some of the other contributors have some ideas about how to raise fund. Thank You.
, Max Martin on February 05, 2015
Short Journey began as a one room, one teacher frame school building serving the African American community. The school received its name because it was only a “short journey” to Wesley Chapel Church, which still exists one mile east of Short Journey. The present building, completed in 1926, was made possible through the efforts of the Rosenwald Fund. The local community was successful in raising $500 to match the funding necessary to construct the new school. The school operated for forty-four years before closing with desegregation after the 1969-70 school year. Eva Cooper was principal for all forty-four years! In 1983, the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh purchased the facility to serve the needs of its youth, young adult and campus ministry programs. Today, Short Journey is open to all “involved in enhancing the dignity of persons.” Short Journey Retreat Center opened its doors in 1983 and has hosted thousands of individuals from all walks of life – each on a journey to return to what is important. Our doors are open to all on ‘the journey.’ e-mail us at short.journey@raldioc.org The link for our website http://www.shortjourneyretreatcenter.org
Mayor Anne Johnston on January 07, 2015
Our Town, St. George, SC, has just purchased a six-teacher C.1925-26 Rosenwald School which has been neglected for decades. We have a State Senator, a State Representative, a County Council member and an Alumnus of the school on Boarde to help us. The Southern office of the National Trust has reached out to us (they have been trying to purchase the school for years) and a leading preservation architect is working with us. We will appreciate any advice, suggestions, shared experiences to guide us as we undertake this huge endeavor. This is one of only two school built in Dorchester County. The challenge is great, but our determination is greater. Contact us at g_town@bellsouth.net or 843-563-3032 or 305 Ridge Street/St. George, SC 29477
Carmen Smith on October 15, 2014
Saving New Fork School in Fluvanna County Virginia. I am a private owner, if anyone would like to contribute to the restoration of this school, my address is 1095 Winnsville Dr. Bremo Bluff, Virginia. 23022. 434-842-3737
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.

Register Today

The National Rosenwald Conference offers attendees the tools to tell the story of Rosenwald schools and the resources to help define the future of the movement for the next 50 years. Register today for the 2015 National Rosenwald Conference.

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