Local historian seeks to identify all Rosenwald schools in area

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

To the Editor:

According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, there were eight schools in Southampton County that were deemed Rosenwald Schools: Tucker Swamp (1917-20); Sands (1922-23); Ebenezer (22-23); White Meadow (1927-28); Franklin (1930-31); School 9 (1920-21); Boykins (1920-21); and Courtland (1928). We were able to document our school thru the Fisk University Rosenwald data base, a site visit from the state, school board records, deeds and articles from the Journal and Guide Newspaper. There are specific architectural elements that are the core of the Rosenwald designs.

For the last two years I have attended the state conference on Rosenwald Schools and visited other Rosenwald schools in Virginia. Justin Sarafin, director of Virginia Preservation Initiatives and Engagement, and I have been working very closely to find those schools listed. He has visited sites and have gathered information from former students about their sites. I have interviewed former students of some of these school (Ebenezer, Boykins and one called Rosenwald) to make them aware that their schools were listed as Rosenwald schools and the possibility of getting a marker for the sites. There is evidence in the school board records that the Franklin School was partially funded by Rosenwald. There is a member of my community who attended Hayden (my arch rival) that has great information about the Franklin School who also has met Mr. Sarafin.

Once the school has been verified by the state as a Rosenwald School, then it becomes eligible for a marker. The cost of the maker is about $1,700 and has to be funded by the patron. I welcome all the help that I can get to identify these schools and get markers.

You may also contact Justin jsarafin@preservationvirginia.org about the Rosenwald initiative and Jennifer.Loux@dhr.virginia.gov about the historical marker program.

While poring through the school boards records, I found that there were many “colored” one- and two-room schools pre- and post-Rosenwald, Courtland included. I would love to find all of those, too.

Maxine Nowlin