RestorationThe Columbia Rosenwald School was built in 1921 and students in East Columbia, TX had a “real” school building for the first time in their lives. Then the school closed its doors in 1948 and it was abandoned, then sold and moved, later to be used as a hay barn and fall into disrepair until its recognition, identification and verification as a Rosenwald School in 1995. As of today, 83 alumni have been indentified and research is under way to locate the families of others who attended the school at any time.
Efforts began to acquire and restore the school, but little was done until the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Rosenwald Schools to its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2002.
The first grant was one from the National Trust for Historic Preservation that allowed a restoration architectural firm to be hired to determine if the school could be saved. The answer was “yes” and the work began. The school was donated to the Museum, land leased and the move and restoration began!
When the Rosenwald Schools were being built, the goal was for a community to work together to raise some of the money, and only then would the rest of the money, the plans, bill of materials, and supervision be forthcoming from the Rosenwald Foundation and Tuskegee University. A community was told “the whites and the colored; the rich and the poor; the farmer and the banker” all needed to be a part of this process.
And that is exactly how this school has been restored and reopened: a true community effort involving organizations, the school district (Columbia-Brazoria I.S.D.) and people of all walks of life who were interested in preserving yesterday’s history for tomorrow’s future.
The school is to be used as an interactive Children’s Museum where students will be allowed to experience the time of the one room school where several grade levels were taught at the same time by one teacher. The history of the Rosenwald Schools and tributes to Mr. Julius Rosenwald and Mr. Booker T. Washington will be an integral part of any lesson presented.