Restoration of a historic schoolhouse in Germantown will serve as a community heritage center
It was Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, who got Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., to help build schools for African-American children in the South. Between 1912 and 1932, The Rosenwald School Building Program provided seed money for the construction of more than 5,000 schools from Maryland to Texas, including a reported 23 in Worcester County alone. Of those, only the school built in Germantown in 1922 is known to have survived in its original state.
Closed by the board of education in 1953, the two-room schoolhouse languished for a number of years until it was eventually claimed in 1962 by the Worcester County Roads Department, which used it to store equipment.
Thanks to a citizens group led by Joseph Purnell in 2001, the Worcester County Board of Commissioners transferred the deed for the school back to the community, and in 2010, the restoration of the historic Germantown school broke ground. At press time, the project was on schedule to be completed in July. The restored version will include six rooms, two baths, a warming kitchen, a small office, an exhibit room and a large meeting room within its 1,656 overall square feet.
When unveiled, the Germantown Rosenwald School will serve as a tangible link to Worcester County’s rich history and heritage in addition to its practical use as a seniors’ meeting spot, afterschool facility for children, community-gathering site and special-events venue.
Though nearly complete, the Germantown Rosenwald School will need more funding to subsidize the costs of maintenance. To donate, contact the Germantown School Community Heritage Center at 410-641-0638, or email GermantownSchool@gmail.com.
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