|City/Town: • Bigelow • Conway|
|Location Class: • School|
|Built: • 1926 | Abandoned: • N/A|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places • African American Heritage Site|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz • Jared Holt|
In 1917, Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and President of Sears Roebuck and Co. created a foundation to support education of African American youth. Rosenwald’s fund aided construction of over 5,000 school buildings across the South and over 300 schools in Arkansas. The Bigelow Rosenwald School was built in 1926, at the height of the Rosenwald Foundation’s activity in Arkansas. It was the only Rosenwald School constructed in Perry County and is one of less than twenty that survive statewide. The building was used as a school until 1964 and then as a community center for many years.
The building is threatened from lack of maintenance and lack of funds to preserve the building. Although it is easily recognizable as a Rosenwald School, the building’s large banks of windows have been replaced by much smaller windows.
Recently a board of directors was established to help restore the building. The group has consulted the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), seeking guidance on actions that are needed to preserve the building. Once the board establishes 501(c)(3) status, they will be eligible for grant funding. The Alliance hopes this listing will bring statewide attention and momentum to the efforts of the Rosenwald Community Cultural Center to preserve the Bigelow Rosenwald School!
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