Other Architectural Plans

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia| Posted: 7/7/2008

Rosenwald Schools Using Other Plans

Not all Rosenwald schools followed the Tuskegee or Community School Plans. The Rosenwald program only required an "approved plan," despite periodic suggestions that its grants be limited to structures following its own designs. Some schools followed designs developed by state departments of education. For example, in South Carolina, the Union County school superintendent reported constructing several Rosenwald schools in the late 1910s according to plans developed by R.E. Lee at the Clemson Agricultural College (now Clemson University). Others probably copied plans developed by architects for other schools, or commissioned their own.

Some of these atypical Rosenwald schools are large, two- and three-story buildings located in cities, rather than the one-story structures usually found in rural neighborhoods. They received Rosenwald aid because they served as the only secondary schools for African Americans in a given county, and were sponsored by county rather than city school boards. Thus the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School in Fort Myers, Florida, was built as Lee County's only four-year secondary school for African Americans in 1927. Designed by L. N. Iredell, its gleaming white stucco and Spanish Mission Revival styling are a far cry from Tuskegee or Rosenwald Fund plans. In 1929, the Julius Rosenwald Fund translated this practice into an official policy that allowed towns to apply for construction grants to build schools that offered at least two years of high school and vocational instruction for both genders, further accelerating the trend toward larger schools. Even the name of the building program changed as a result, from the rural school program to the southern school program.

Other Schools Using Rosenwald Plans

To complicate matters further, not all schools built according to the Community School Plans were Rosenwald schools, or historically African American schools. One of the motivations for publishing the Tuskegee plans and the Community School Plans was to give these rural school designs a broader audience, and to encourage local school authorities to incorporate Progressive design standards into rural school construction projects. Especially after 1920, the Rosenwald Fund portrayed its plans as model designs for any rural school. Nashville office staff gave away design pamphlets and blueprints to state departments of education and local school boards. Because the plans were widely circulated, met contemporary standards of rural school design, and were relatively inexpensive to build, some county boards of education used the Rosenwald plans to build schools for black children for which they did not receive Rosenwald aid, and others used the plans to build schools for white children. Next»