ROSENWALD SCHOOLS

ROSENWALD SCHOOLS


Prior to desegregation, black schools across the South and in North Carolina were not supported by the various county school boards as equally as the white counterpart schools were. Communities and teachers did what they could with what they had, but the lack of public funding, substandard school buildings and school supplies created a challenging environment (in a negative sense) for both teachers and students. The Rosenwald school building program is considered to have enabled many African Americans to acquire an education that might otherwise have been unobtainable, and in a more conducive setting than was previously possible.

The Rosenwald school program originated circa 1913 with Booker T. Washington and the staff of the Tuskegee Institute; the first “Rosenwald School” was built in Alabama in 1913. The Rosenwald school program represented a major effort to improve African American schooling in the South, with over 5,300 Rosenwald buildings built in fifteen states during the duration of the program. The name originated from Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company. Rosenwald offered matching grants to communities interested in building schools for black students.
 
The Rosenwald school program eventually created "problems" for various people and organizations throughout the South, however. Tuskegee's state agents found themselves opposed by many county school boards, and segregationists were "concerned" about the various resources that Rosenwald's money brought to black schools, teachers, and students, and the power that was given to the (all-black) committee that oversaw the program at the Tuskegee Institute. Due to these "concerns," and in order to save the program (as several states were threatening to withdraw from the program), the running of the program was eventually taken away from the Tuskegee Institute committee and given to various newly-created regional offices.
 
As a result of this, in June 1920, the Tuskegee Institute reluctantly sent their program files to the newly-created Rosenwald School “Southern Office,” located in Nashville, Tennessee. Samuel L. Smith was hired to administer the program. One of Smith's first ideas was to have a series of stock school plans created and published, providing them to interested communities and/or school boards as requested.
 
North Carolina was home to more Rosenwald schools than any other state in the country, with approximately 787 schoolhouses built between 1917 and July 1932. Most of the schools were built to stock plans and out of lumber, but some communities modified the plans to suit their needs and had more substantial structures built out of brick.
 
Grass-roots fundraising was a key component in the Rosenwald program. George E. Davis, assistant director of North Carolina's Division of Negro Education and the supervisor of Rosenwald buildings for North Carolina, led hundreds of gatherings in black communities across the state to create enthusiasm and raise money for the building of the schools.
 
There were four Rosenwald schools built in Orange County; they were:
 

350 CALDWELL ST. / ORANGE COUNTY TRAINING SCHOOL (SECOND) / NORTHSIDE ELEMENTARY

350
Chapel Hill
NC
Built in
1924
/ Modified in
1935
Architectural style: 
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350
Chapel Hill
NC
Built in
1924
/ Modified in
1935
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
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The Orange County Training School was built in 1924, on six and one-half acres of land donated by Henry Stroud between present-day McMaster and Caldwell streets in the Northside neighborhood. The building replaced the original Orange County Training School that had been located on Merritt Mill Road.
 
The Orange County School Board tried to cut back on funding for construction of the new school, and the community had to ensure that such materials as brick were used instead of cheaper materials like cinder block. The buiding's cornerstone was laid in a well-attended public ceremony September 1, 1924. The school's first principal was B. L. Bosman.
 
The total cost of the school was ,112.00, with the black community raising 0.00, the general public raising ,000.00, the white community raising ,112.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing ,500.00 towards its construction.
 
Circa 1925 (Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database)
 
Circa 1925 (Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database)
 
It was a nine-teacher type building plan, and its application number was 60-D. It was the largest Rosenwald in the county.
 
Excerpt of June 1925 Sanborn map
 
A new addition was added to the front of the school in 1935, which enabled the administration to separate the elementary school from the high school (as grades 1-12 attended the school). The school was renamed Lincoln High School in 1948 and Northside Elementary in 1951, when the new Lincoln High School was built on Merritt Mill Road.
 
The school closed shortly after mandatory integration of the district began in 1966. The building was then used mainly as office space until it was razed to make way for a new school building; an even newer (and quite large) school was built in 2013.
 
Circa 1947 (photo by Bayard Wootten, via UNC)
 
Gymnasium; March 10, 1954, (photo by Roland Giduz)
 
Gymnasium; March 10, 1954, (photo by Roland Giduz)
 
The original Orange County Training School cornerstone

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COOL SPRINGS SCHOOL

Built in
1922
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
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Built in
1922
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The Cool Springs School was built in 1921-1922, on two acres of land located south-south east of University Station. The total cost of the school was ,200.00, with the local black community raising ,800.00, the general public raising 0.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing 0.00 towards its construction.
 
It was a two-teacher type building plan, and its application number was 22-A.
 
Circa 1922 (Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database)
 
Circa 1922 (Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database)
 

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EFLAND SCHOOL

,
Efland
NC
Built in
1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
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,
Efland
NC
Built in
1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The Efland School was built in 1924-1925, on two acres of land west of the town of Efland. The total cost of the school was ,810.00, with the local black community raising 0.00, the general public raising ,710.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing 0.00 towards its construction.
 
Its application number was 38-D.
 
Circa 1925 (Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database)

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GRAVELY HILL SCHOOL

1015
,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1917-1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
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Type: 
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1015
,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1917-1925
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

This Gravely Hill School was built circa 1920 on a one-acre property west of Efland, in the community of Miles. This school may have been partially funded by the Rosenwald fund.[1]
 
It was a two-teacher type building plan (i.e. it had two classrooms). The property was originally surveyed for a school in April 1912, so perhaps an earlier school building once existed on this property. The school was segregated, being for white students only. In 1930, Chestnut Ridge school was consolidated with this school, and its students were sent to Gravely Hill.[2]
 
The property was sold by the Orange County Board of Education in February 1957 to Nellie Cheek Davis.
 
Note: There was an earlier Gravelly Hill School for white students that dated back to at least the 1870s, named after the community where it was located (to the south of this school's location); and, Orange County's Middle School #3 was named Gravelly Hill Middle School, utilizing the original/earliest spelling.
 
 

1965 aerial photo

View west, circa 2015 (image via Phil Mace)

 

SOURCES
[1] Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database, http://rosenwald.fisk.edu; if there was an African-American Gravely Hill school, I am unable to locate its site.
[2] Irene O. Pender, A History of Orange County Schools, 1752-1983. Hillsborough, NC: Shanklin's Press, 1983, p76
[3] Orange County Deed Book 161, Page 500

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Sources:
Caldwell, Edwin. History of Lincoln High School. 1973.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools. District History Timeline. chccs.k12.nc.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=56110 [dead link]
Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database. http://rosenwald.fisk.edu
Hanchett, Thomas W. The Rosenwald Schools and Black Education in North Carolina. The North Carolina Historical Review, 65 (October 1988).
Hanchett, Tom. Rosenwald Schools: Beacons for Black Education in the American South. rosenwaldplans.org [dead link]
Leloudis, James L. Schooling the New South: Pedagogy, Self, and Society in North Carolina, 1880-1920. UNC Press, 1996.
Lincoln High School Alumni website. http://lincolnhighalumni.org
North Carolina State Archives. Rosenwald School Buildings in North Carolina from the Beginning until July 1, 1930. Special Subject File, Division of Negro Education, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Records. Raleigh.
Staino, Patricia. Where Were the Rosenwald Schools? Carolina Country, July 2003.
Wikipedia