Reedtown School marker unveiledPublished 6:03am Saturday, July 6, 2013
An important piece of Franklin County history was officially recognized at a special ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
The Reedtown-Rosenwald School site, which housed the old Reedtown High School, received its official historical marker from the Alabama Historical Commission.
The marker was presented at a dedication and unveiling ceremony in the presence of many members of the community who were impacted by the school.
“This is a day of history in the making,” said Rev. Charles Dale, who was instrumental in having the school designated as a historic landmark.
“We are thankful that through these doors came teachers, lawyers and other entities that developed as a result of this school.
“We have gladness in or hearts to know we have come this far by faith, leaning and depending on the Lord, and we are so glad to reach this pinnacle today.”
Russellville District 1 councilman Lanny Hubbard read the proclamation on behalf of Mayor David Grissom declaring July 1-7, 2013, as Reedtown Rosenwald School Week in the city of Russellville.
“On behalf of the mayor and city council, I appreciate the work Rev. Dale has done,” Hubbard said. “Without that, this never would have been done. I’m proud we have hard working people working in this city to make it better.”
The old Reedtown High School was placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on Feb. 21, and officials with the Historic Register as well as the Black Heritage Council visited the school on Feb. 25 to formally present letters of acceptance to city leaders.
The designation was the result of months of work and research by Dale, a graduate of Reedtown High School, and Franklin County Extension Coordinator Katernia Cole, who began the project back in December.
“This school is an important part of our community and getting it on the historic register was something I have wanted to do for some time now,” Dale said at the time of the designation.
“It is important because this school was and is the last black school in the county. And out of all the other black schools in the area, this is the very first one to be placed on the Historic Register. I think that speaks volumes about the significance of this building.”
To be placed on the register, applicants have to show the building in question is at least 40 years old or older and that it has some level of historical significance.
Reedtown High School was built as a “Rosenwald School,” which was the title applied to over 5,300 schools in the South that were built primarily to educate African Americans who were forced to attend segregated schools.
Julius Rosenwald, part owner of Sears, Roebuck and Company, was the founder of the project and provided seed money along with money contributed by the rural communities, to build these schools like Reedtown High School.
According to the new historic marker, the African American community contributed $1,880 to the building of the school, the white community contributed $475, the Rosenwald fund contributed $700 and $900 came from public funds.
The Reedtown Rosenwald School was constructed in 1923-1924, and the newer Reedtown High School building was constructed in 1952 and operated until its closing in 1972, even though the last graduating class was the class of 1968.
Dr. Dorothy Walker, former public outreach coordinator for the Alabama Historical Commission, said the approval made Reedtown High School one of three places in Russellville on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Walker said the designation the Reedtown High School received is honorary but doesn’t place restrictions as far as what the building can be used for in the future.
Hubbard said the building was currently used as a multi-use community building for meetings, dinners and other functions, such as a bi-annual reunion for former students called the Reedtown Roundup, so it continues to be an important part of the community.
Dale said now that the state designation and historical marker have been secured, he will now begin working on receiving national recognition for the school.