Rosenwald School discovered in Owensboro


Associated Press

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 3:01 PM

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A one-room schoolhouse in Owensboro has been added to a national database of schools built for black children in the early 20th century.

The schoolhouse is in Pioneer Village at Yellow Creek Park. It was one of 5,357 public schools, manual training shops and teacher cottages built in the South with grants from the Rosenwald Fund between 1912 and 1932. A total of 158 of them were built in 41 Kentucky counties.

Fisk University in Nashville maintains a database of Rosenwald Schools around the country.

Friends of Pioneer Village Executive Director Sean Dysinger told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer ( ) the head of the project at Fisk thought the Owensboro school had been torn down, which is why it wasn't included on the list until now.

"I stumbled on it by chance. Turns out, the school at Pioneer Village was 'lost'. They thought it had been torn down," Dysinger said.

Dysinger called the professor, Jessie Smith, who heads the project and gave her the information on the Daviess County school and sent along pictures to be included in the database.

The local Rosenwald school was built in Pleasant Ridge in 1919 at a cost of $2,500. The Fisk database says whites contributed $325 toward the cost; blacks, $125; and "the public," $1,650.

That leaves $400 unaccounted for.

The school is an example of the "Tuskegee Period" of Rosenwald schools.

Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, worked with Julius Rosenwald, a partner in Sears, Roebuck & Co., to partially fund construction of black schools in the South. Rosenwald, a Chicago millionaire, became a Tuskegee trustee in 1912, the year the building project began.

He would eventually contribute more than $4 million — about $45 million today — to the rural school building program for black students. The schools would informally bear Rosenwald's name.

The Pleasant Ridge School closed in 1936, when county schools consolidated.

"There's a metal plaque on the building," Dysinger said, "but I've been involved with Pioneer Village for six years and I wasn't aware of its significance. How exciting to think that the school house has any sort of connection to Booker T. Washington."


Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer,