The Rosenwald Schoolhouse

The Schoolhouse Goals

The Community School Plans looked to create an environment beneficial to learning with specific guidelines both for school building and grounds. The Fund suggested that specific lot sizes were found in order to accommodate the schoolhouse, teacher accommodations, a boy’s privy, a girl’s privy, area for a playground, and space for agricultural demonstrations. Each element promoted the space and aimed to improve school experience and atmosphere. Today, the key feature of Rosenwald Schools are the large bays of windows.

Lighting in the classrooms was emphasized from the beginning, and there was an entire page of the Bulletin dedicated to lighting; it states: “a child needs more light by which to read or study than an adult. When a child studies from day to day with an insufficient amount of light the tendency is to draw the book close to the eyes. If this condition is allowed to exist long enough, the muscular adjustment of the eye is so changed that the child becomes “nearsighted.”

Image 2: Smith, Samuel L. “Community School Plans, Bulletin No. 3, the Julius Rosenwald Fund: African American Education.” Cover. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 1924. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll13/id/4554.

Image 1: East Wall, Central Northern Room, St. Johns. Glatt

Image 3: Cadentown Rosenwald School,Fayette County, KY. LOC

Schoolhouse Construction

These schools were unique in construction, to the point that each element contributed to the spatial experience. It was only in later years that the Rosenwald Fund shifted from the promotion of improving existing schoolhouses to an actual building program. With the publication of the Community School Plans in 1924, spearheaded by Samuel L. Smith while looking to Fletcher B. Dresslar in considering the spatial environment of the school, did the Rosenwald Fund form a visual identity to the landscape? The Fund had moved their headquarters from the Tuskegee Institute to Nashville Tennessee and began implementing a series of different school designs throughout the rural south.

Page through the 1924 publication of the Community School Plans designed by Samuel L. Smith.

For full text and image citations reference the two linked PDFs in the website footer, at the bottom of the page.