Tuskegee Plans, 1913-1920

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Clinton J. Calloway and staff members of Tuskegee's mechanical industries and architecture programs developed the initial Rosenwald building plans, which appeared in the Institute's 1915 publication, The Negro Rural School and Its Relation to the Community.

The Negro Rural School featured three building types: a one-teacher school, a central (consolidated) school, and a county training school. These Tuskegee-designed schools are easily distinguished from later Rosenwald buildings. They feature hipped and clipped-gable rooflines and central entrances protected by projecting gable or shed porch roofs. The batteries of windows that provide the major light source for instructional rooms group five to seven double-hung sash windows, and pairs of these windows pierce the other sides of the building as well. Reflecting the Tuskegee-style curriculum intended for these schools, the plans include space for industrial education, most often providing a smaller classroom for girls' domestic science work as part of the school building and locating boys' vocational work in a separate structure.

Tuskegee's plans also introduced many features that would be repeated in later Rosenwald schools. The smallest design was for a one-teacher school, but it was not a one-room school. Throughout the rest of its existence the Rosenwald program would continue to classify its buildings by the number of teachers, rather than the number of rooms, to emphasize that its schools provided work rooms, cloak rooms, and, in larger schools, auditoriums and offices as well. Thus the one-teacher school included a classroom for academic instruction, a smaller industrial classroom, a kitchen, a library, and cloakrooms.

Lighting and ventilation, two critical aspects of Progressive school design, also received serious attention from the start. All Tuskegee designs grouped windows into "batteries" to maximize the effect of natural light in the interior and raised the building on short piers for ventilation and moisture control. Progressive educators believed that schools should serve as community centers and that small rural schools should be consolidated into single larger facilities, in part to support an expanded curriculum, but also to create a sense of community between neighboring districts. Even the one-teacher school plan called for folding doors between the workroom and classroom that could be opened to create a larger space for special events, and provided for a future classroom addition.

The larger central school plan arranged a school building, a separate industrial building for blacksmithing and carpentry, and a teacher's home within a larger site that included practice farm plots. Tuskegee provided two alternative floor plans for one and two-story structures.
The county training school was a special type of school that received funding from the John F. Slater Fund. Originally conceived as schools that would prepare rural black teachers and promote industrial education, the county training schools developed into high schools with strong academic programs as well. Next»