Orange County, North Carolina historic information cache - Rosenwald schools in Orange County
Rosenwald schools in Orange County, 1920-1925
 
 
Prior to desegregation, black schools across the South and in North Carolina were rarely 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 and substandard school buildings 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 lifetime 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:
 
Cool Springs School front (click to enlarge)

Cool Springs School rear (click to enlarge)
Cool Springs School

The Cool Springs School was built in 1921-22, on two acres of land located north of Chapel Hill, near University Station. The total cost of the school was $3,200.00, with the black community raising $1,800.00, the general public raising $600.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing $800.00 towards its construction.

It was a two-teacher type building plan (similar to this plan), and its application number was 22-A.

Orange County Training School front (click to enlarge)

Orange County Training School rear (click to enlarge)

Excerpt from the June 1925 Sanborn map of Chapel Hill, showing the Orange County Training School
Orange County Training School

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 kept trying 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 $23,112.00, with the black community raising $500.00, the general public raising $15,000.00, the white community raising $6,112.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing $1,500.00 towards its construction.

It was a nine-teacher type building plan, and its application number was 60-D. It was the largest Rosenwald in the county.


View the school's site on Google Maps


Efland School (click to enlarge) Efland School

The Efland School was built in 1924-25, on two acres of land east of the town of Efland near present-day Highway 70. The total cost of the school was $4810.00, with the black community raising $200.00, the general public raising $3,710.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing $900.00 towards its construction.

It was a three-teacher type building plan, and its application number was 38-D.

no image available Gravely Hill School

The Gravely Hill School was built circa 1920. It was located southwest of Efland, on the old Graham Road/Highway 10 (present-day West Ten Road) in the vicinity of Cheeks Crossroads. The total cost of the school was $3,200.00, with the black community raising $700.00, the general public raising $2,000.00, and the Rosenwald fund providing $500.00 towards its construction.

It was a two-teacher type building plan.

There was an earlier Gravelly Hill School that dated back to at least the 1870s, named after the community where it was located (and depicted on the 1891 Tate map of the county); and, recently, Orange County's Middle School #3 was named Gravelly Hill Middle School (utilizing the original spelling).

 
 
Sources:

Caldwell, Edwin. History of Lincoln High School. 1973.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools. District History Timeline. http://www2.chccs.k12.nc.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=56110.

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. http://www.rosenwaldplans.org.

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.

The News (Chapel Hill/Orange County). September 4, 1924.

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.
 
 
[Created: 06 October 2009]    

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