A Pride? Not a Flock. Nor a Fleet. How about a Richness? Whatever the term should be, Maryland has ‘em! I participated on a conference call recently organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to discuss the naming of the collective Rosenwald Schools as one of our National Treasures, a new designation that promises to focus attention on America’s most significant and most threatened historic resources. The Rosenwalds were added to America’s Most Endangered list by the National Trust in 2002. Maryland, it seems, had 153 of the 5,300 schools built for blacks in the South between 1912 and 1932 through the generosity of Julius Rosenwald, one of the founders of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. empire. According to a survey done about 10 years ago, 53 of them survive in Maryland. Preservation Maryland named the Ridgeley Rosenwald School in Prince George’s County to our Endangered Maryland list in 2007. Happily the building has since undergone a $1.1 million restoration and is now a museum. We also recognized Mildred Ridgley-Gray with Preservation Maryland’s Volunteer Award in 2008 for her efforts towards the school’s preservation.
But where do we go from here? With such an impressive collection of the schools remaining, the National Trust is seeking funding support for their preservation and hopes to hold several regional conferences to encourage and facilitate the preservation of the schools, which are found in 16 states. Preservation Maryland will consider cooperating on one of those conferences and in redoubling our efforts to ensure that our state’s Richness of Rosenwalds receive the attention that they deserve.