Published June 10, 2021

In 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation 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.

Virginia native Booker T. Washington approached philanthropist Julius Rosenwald in 1912 with the idea to build rural schools desperately needed for Black children across the segregated U.S. South. That partnership sparked an initiative that eventually created more than 5300 schools, vocational shops, and teacher’s homes across 15 states in the South and Southwest from 1912-1932. Many of these schools now nearly 100 years old, and many suffer from abandonment, neglect, or lack of resources for continued use by the communities they once served.

Learn about the history and legacy of Rosenwald Schools, read case studies of successful rehabilitation projects (including two in Virginia’s Buckingham and Rappahannock counties), find ideas for reusing the schools, and get helpful tips and suggestions for rehabilitating Rosenwald Schools in the Grassroots Guide to Preserving Rosenwald Schools