‘It’s not right:’ Cumberland residents say planned landfill will disturb historic school, possible burial grounds

“CUMBERLAND — Just inside the front door of the 100-year-old Pine Grove School in Cumberland County’s small Cartersville community, the soft wood underfoot groans and gives under Muriel Branch’s steps.

“I walked three and a half miles to get here, each way, each day,” says Branch, sweeping her gaze around the one-room schoolhouse where she received her elementary education from 1949 to 1955. “Pine Grove School really means something to me.”

One of at least 360 Rosenwald Schools built in Virginia from 1917 to 1932, Pine Grove School was founded to better educate African-American students in Cumberland.”

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Renovations Begin at Rosenwald School

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“…Volunteers gathered last Saturday for a window raising in honor of the school’s 100th anniversary celebration. The Julius Rosenwald School Foundation of Northumberland County plans several renovation projects over the next few months including ceiling and floor restoration. To donate to the cause, go to jrsfnc.org, or call Brenda Yerby Bullock, 304-270-6716. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi”

Northampton County, NC, Once Home to 21 Rosenwald Schools

Dennis Babb from the Northampton County Museum in Jackson has researched the history of Rosenwald schools in the county. “When consolidation and integration began, the Rosenwald Schools closed,” Babb said.

The schools were all built on similar floor plans making them easy to identify and there were 21 of them. Only a few remain, but some have found new life in their communities as a community center or as center rented out for events. Read the article in The Daily Herald here.

The Potecasi Rosenwald school building (above) reopened as a community center last year with the support of alumni and community leaders. Photo by Cal Bryant, The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

Proposed Rosenwald School Design Featured in MoMA’s Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive

A Frank Lloyd Wright proposed design for a Rosenwald School for African American children will be presented by Mabel O. Wilson, Columbia University and the Society of Architectural Historians, during a special study day at MoMA on June 2.

A sketch by architect Frank Lloyd Wright envisions the Rosenwald Foundation School. It will be presented along with many other items from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives in a major retrospective planned by New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2017. – Original Credit: Handout (Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation / HANDOUT)

The MoMA Exhibit: Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive will run from June 12 – Oct. 1, 2017. It marks the 150th anniversary of the American Architect’s birth and the fifth anniversary of the transferof the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives to the joint stewardship of MoMA and the Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

Prof. Wilson is the author of Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums, a runner-up for John Hope Franklin Prize for the best American Studies publication in 2012. Her scholarly essays have appeared in numerous journals and books on critical geography, memory studies, art and architecture. She has received awards, fellowships and residencies from Getty Research Institute, New York State Council for the Arts, and ID magazine. She is currently developing the manuscript Building Race and Nation: How Slavery Influenced Antebellum American Civic Architecture and collaborating on a collection of essays on race and modern architecture.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s proposed design in 1928 was probably never built because it would have been too expensive. His version was ambitious and included a courtyard with a swimming pool and a proscenium stage. Its construction would have included pioneering use of concrete and fieldstone that he would use on later buildings.

In total, there were 5,357 Rosenwald schools, shop houses, and teacher’s houses built. Most remained in use until the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling went into effect in 1954 and black schools were no longer a necessity. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is working to restore many of the school and many of the buildings have found new uses as town halls, community centers and more.

Read more on Prof. Wilson’s presentation here.
Read more on MoMA’s exhibition here.