Courtland building to unveil historical marker
Published 10:00 am Friday, September 4, 2015
A dedication and unveiling ceremony of a Virginia Commonwealth Historical Marker for the Courtland Rosenwald School will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 11 a.m. The marker will be installed next to the historic building, erected in 1928, which is now the Courtland Community Center, 25499 Florence St.
According to Maxine Nowlin, a former student, there were eight Rosenwald schools in Southampton County, which included White Meadow, Tucker Swamp, Ebeneezer, Franklin, Boykins and Sands. The building in Courtland is the only remaining.
The Rosenwald schools were financed jointly by the Julius Rosenwald Fund and local communities between 1917 and 1932. The fund, established in 1917 by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, was inspired in large part by his friendship with Booker T. Washington, who asked the former to sponsor a pilot program to build six schools in Alabama. The school’s architectural designs and plans were developed by the professors at Tuskegee University.
The Rosenwald Fund spent more than $4 million to help build 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes and 163 shops. Rosenwald forged funds and maintenance agreements from state and county school authorities and contributions of money, land and labor from both black and white communities in 15 states. These schools were the first formal schools or replaced schools in some communities, or replaced those that were dilapidated and unsafe. In Courtland, the Rosenwald Funds contributed more than 25 percent of the school’s budget.
The last Rosenwald school was constructed in 1933, and the fund end in 1948. Rosenwald died in 1932. Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery, attended Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute, now known as Hampton University. He was also the founder of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Tuskegee University. He died in 1915.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation estimates that 10 to 12 percent of those built in the South remain standing today. Justin Sarafin, director of preservation initiatives and engagement with Preservation Virginia, estimates that roughly 30 percent of the Commonwealth’s 382 Rosenwald schools remain standing, all in varying conditions.
In 2002, the National Trust placed Rosenwald Schools on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list and created a special initiative to help raise awareness, find new uses, provide resources and assist in the preservation and rehabilitation of the aging school buildings.
For more information about the Rosenwald schools or the dedication ceremony, contact Nowlin at email@example.com.