Coastal Bend College’s Lott-Canada Facility is the continuing education and adult basic education center for Coastal Bend College. It also houses a museum exhibit of the history of the building.
Lowe’s provided a $1 million grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to save 15 “Rosenwald schools” from permanent disrepair and, through adaptive reuse, to transform them into once-again vibrant facilities in their communities.
CBC Lott-Canada Facility is one of dozens to benefit from this grant cycle. The old Lott-Canada School is recognized as a Texas landmark.
“The Lowe’s contribution will help to preserve these iconic landmarks of monuments to African-American history,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “In a time of great racial inequality, Julius Rosenwald worked with communities across the South and Southwest to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. These schools represent a critical link to our national heritage, and we are pleased to work with Lowe’s in preserving these important places that tell America’s story.”
In 1912, Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington partnered to pilot a rural school building program for African-Americans in Alabama. The Rosenwald Fund ultimately provided $4.7 million in grants, and African-Americans donated an additional $4.7 million to build state-of-the-art school facilities across the country between 1918 and 1932. Today, these buildings are called “Rosenwald schools.”
At the heart of many African-American communities, these schools served as community centers and provided meeting spaces and school facilities. When the program concluded in 1932, more than 5,300 schools, vocational shops and teachers’ homes had been constructed in 15 states across the South and Southwest.
“The role Rosenwald schools played in the educational and civic lives of communities throughout the South cannot be underestimated,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “Preserving these historic structures and returning them to be valuable gathering places is important to our nation’s history and the communities where they are located - both worthy goals Lowe’s is proud to continue to support.”
In 1954, the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas Supreme Court decision caused most remaining Rosenwald schools to close. Once closed, these hallmarks of early 20th century African-American educational progress and community life fell victim to changing times.
Today, no more than 10 to 12 percent of Rosenwald schools are estimated to remain standing. Fewer still are used as learning centers. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald schools to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2002.
For more information on Rosenwald schools, please visit www.rosenwaldschools.com/.