ANDERSON — Representatives from Tri-County Technical College and the Anderson County Museum, along with key community partners, will gather at the college’s Anderson Campus on Feb. 28, to dedicate a full-scale reproduction of a one-teacher Rosenwald School.
These rural schoolhouses were built to significantly improve the educational opportunities for African Americans in the early 20th century.
The 900-square-foot, authentic reproduction was constructed over the past two years by students in the college’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning and Building Construction programs.
In observance of Black History Month, the Feb. 28 event is the culmination of a month-long series of events at the College and within the community, said Anderson Campus Director Tim Bowen.
The dedication will begin at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a reception and tours conducted by the Museum staff. Speakers include Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts, who will deliver the keynote address. Hattie Green and Magdalene Hawthorne, who both attended Rosenwald Schools, will give reflections on their experiences. Hawthorne, of Oconee County, attended the Retreat Rosenwald School in Westminster and currently is working on the restoration project for that school. Green, a Belton City Council member, attended the Honea Path Rosenwald School, often referred to locally as the Geer-Gantt School.
The Rosenwald Schools were the brainchild of Julius Rosenwald, CEO of Sears and Roebuck, and Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee Institute (now University).
The Rosenwald initiative, which began in 1912, was to build new school buildings for the African American communities throughout the South. The Rosenwald Foundation provided matching funds to build precisely designed schools to enable the best environment for learning.
“The absolute genius of the Rosenwald initiative was that it required everyone to have a vested interest in the local school. Everyone – blacks, whites, the entire community – all had to provide funds, and often labor, to make these mostly rural schools a reality,” said Bowen.
Because of the segregated school systems, the Anderson County African-American community would take advantage of this initiative to construct 19 Rosenwald Schools throughout the county, most of which were two-teacher designs. South Carolina had about 500 of the more than 5,000 schools built across 15 southern states.
The Rosenwald Schools in Anderson County were Anderson County Training School, Pendleton; Belton School, Generostee School, Deep Creek School, Ebenezer School, Fork Grove School, Honea Path School, Rosenwald Jackson School, Mt. Able School, Mountain Springs School, Murray’s Grove School, New Light School, Northside School, Pendleton School, Pleasant Grove School, Reed Street School and Shop, Shiloh School, Shady Grove School and Welcome School.
Of the 19 schools in Anderson County, only three remain — Shiloh, New Light and Mt. Pleasant. Some remnants of the Anderson Training School and Reed Street survive.
The Anderson County Museum and Tri-County entered into a partnership three years ago to develop an historical mall at the Anderson Campus.
The Rosenwald School is the first project, said Bowen, who acknowledged the Westside Community Center and the Anderson County Human Relations Council “who have helped tremendously with research and work. We’re very proud of our Rosenwald School project because it celebrates the history, culture and education of the Anderson area. Frankly, this is not black history. This is our history. And we need to understand it and learn from it.”
For more information, contact Tim Bowen at 260-6705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.