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Historical marker to be placed at old Rosenwald School

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Site known today as Market Street Community Center

By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Wilson County Civic League will recognize a special school in Lebanon with a historical marker on Saturday, Feb. 21, a plaque that is sponsored by the league and approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The Market Street Community Center was originally a Rosenwald School. In the 1920s, black children all through the south benefited from the philanthropy of Julius Rosenwald, a German-Jewish man from Chicago, who decided to partner with Booker T. Washington to improve educational opportunities for black children.

The Wikipedia website said “Julius Rosenwald, an American clothier who became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, was the founder of The Rosenwald Fund, through which he contributed seed money for many schools and other philanthropic causes. To promote collaboration between white and black citizens, Rosenwald required communities to commit public funds to the schools, as well as to contribute additional cash donations.”

The fund eventually built 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes and 163 shop buildings in 15 states.

The WCCL will hold a brief program at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday and will unveil a historic marker at the Market Street Community Center, marking the building as a Rosenwald School. It was formerly the elementary building of the Wilson County Training School.

The original two school buildings were built in 1923 and 1929, respectively. The first, the elementary, was a three-teacher school, but later two more rooms were added. The total cost to build it was $11,700.

The high school, built second, was replaced in the 1950s by a new brick building, and the elementary school was remodeled at that time. It still stands as the Market Street Community Center.

The last high school class graduated in 1969, and the old high school building was torn down in 2000.

The ceremony will also recognize all teachers and principals who served at either school. Those teachers and administrators are invited to attend as is the public.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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