Hopewell Rosenwald School – Clarks Hill, South Carolina
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Hopewell Rosenwald School was built in 1926 to serve the black students of Clarks Hill during the era of racial segregation. Between 1917 and 1932, over 5,000 schools were constructed in the rural South to educate African-American children. They were called Rosenwald Schools in honor of Julius Rosenwald, then-president of Sears and Roebuck, who provided funds to assist in their construction. Though the area now known as McCormick County had boasted two well-known and long-established schools for several generations – John de la Howe School and Willington Academy – they served white children only. No local schools for black students existed until the years following the Civil War.
Most Rosenwald Schools were sponsored by a local black church either through land or financial donations – or both – and usually adopted the church’s name. This school sits on four acres owned by adjacent Hopewell Baptist Church (seen below), which donated land for the school, and is surrounded by dense forest currently owned by the South Carolina Department of Wildlife and Marine Resources. Hopewell School was built as a typical one-teacher school according to the Rosenwald One Teacher Community School building plan. The plans for Rosenwald schools called for buildings to sit in an orientation that allowed for maximum light and ventilation.
Though this building is small and appears to be a one-room school, there are actually three rooms within the structure: a large room used as the classroom and two smaller rooms, one of which is now a kitchen. Hopewell School was one of two Rosenwald Schools built in McCormick County. The other school – Gilbert Rosenwald School – burned and is no longer extant. Today Hopewell School is owned and maintained by Hopewell Baptist Church as a fellowship hall.
Hopewell Rosenwald School is listed in the National Register:
The Hopewell Rosenwald School, built in 1926, is significant in the areas of education, African American heritage, and architecture. Hopewell is a One Teacher Community Plan school, embodying the distinctive architectural characteristics that fall under the guidelines set out by the Julius Rosenwald School Building Program from 1913 to 1932. Though it appears from the exterior to be a one room school house, inside are two smaller rooms and one large room. The larger space was reserved as the class room. Hopewell was built, along with one other Rosenwald school in McCormick County, at a cost of $400 per school. Hopewell is the only Rosenwald School remaining in the county.
Hopewell greatly impacted the education of rural McCormick County’s African American students from 1927 to 1954. By 1954, Hopewell’s enrollment dropped to only nine students as many of the African American families left the area for better opportunities. The school was then left for the benefit and use of the community. Because South Carolina’s white students and schools were afforded more, African American schools, especially in rural counties such as McCormick, were extremely important in the education they provided, the safe environment they gave, and the belief that if students studied and did their best, they could better their future and community. The history of Hopewell Rosenwald School shows its impact on McCormick County’s educational and black heritage landscape for just such provisions and aspirations.
Hopewell Rosenwald School Info
Address: 253 Hopewell Church Road, Clarks Hill, SC 29821
Hopewell Rosenwald School Map
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