Hannah Rosenwald School was built during the 1924-to-1925 school year for African-American students in Newberry. 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. Hannah Rosenwald School was one of 26 Rosenwald Schools built in Newberry County, along with nearby Hope Rosenwald School.
The school replaced the Hannah Free School – also called the Hannah Church School – which was a Freedmen’s School established after the Civil War. Freedmen’s Schools were established by the Freedmen’s Bureau, a federal government agency formed to help newly-freed slaves following Emancipation. Many such schools worked in conjunction with local black churches; Hannah AME Church, which organized after the war, donated land for the Freedmen’s School in 1869, giving the school its name. The Elisha School in neighboring Silverstreet was another Freedmen’s School operating in Newberry County following the war; a new Elisha School was built later with support of Rosenwald funds.
According to the National Register, the Hannah Rosenwald School was also known as Utopia School; the community was called Utopia at the time. However, researcher, blogger, and frequent South Carolina Picture Project contributor Tom Taylor believes the school was only ever called Hannah and not Utopia. Read his evidence for this conclusion at his blog, Random Connections.
In 1895 racial segregation was legalized in South Carolina, and all state schools fell into the control of white school boards. The year before Hannah Rosenwald School was built, 3,405 out of 6,775 students in Newberry County were black; the county spent $5.30 per African-American student and $45.97 per white student. Northern philanthropies stepped in to help subsidize historically black schools in the South, and subsequently the Rosenwald Fund donated $900 to build the Hannah Rosenwald School on four acres near the original Hannah School and Hannah AME Church. It replaced the decades-old Hannah Free School. The black community had raised $1,000, and the state and county combined donated $2000 towards the construction of the school.
By 1925 this three-teacher school was operating, and it educated local African-American students until schools were desegregated after Brown Versus the Board of Education in 1954. Specifically, Hannah Rosenwald School closed in the 1960s when it was consolidated with other schools in Newberry and the Silverstreet community. In 1952 Hannah AME Church relocated from its original location to land across from the school that bears its name.
More Pictures of Hannah Rosenwald School
The Hannah Rosenwald School is listed in the National Register:
Hannah Rosenwald School is significant as a building associated with African-American education during segregation in South Carolina and as a building that embodies the distinctive characteristics of a Rosenwald school design. The Julius Rosenwald Fund focused on providing monies for the construction of modern school buildings for rural African-American children in the South that could serve as models for all rural schools. Twenty-six Rosenwald schools, the second-highest number in the state, were built in Newberry County. Hannah Rosenwald School was built during the 1924-1925 school year, replacing the older Free Hannah School.
Known in Rosenwald School records as the “Utopia School” after the local community, Hannah Rosenwald School was built on four acres of land near Hannah A.M.E. Church, which relocated across the road from the school in 1952. The Rosenwald Fund donated $900, the African-American community donated $1000, and the public (both state and county) donated $2000 to build a three-teacher type school on a north-south orientation. Three-teacher schools were common in South Carolina, but most of them were built on an east-west orientation. Hannah followed the standard interior plan for a three-teacher school, which included three classrooms, three cloakrooms, an industrial room, and an entry hall. The current openings between the classrooms indicate where blackboards once hung. Hannah School closed in the 1960s when it was consolidated with the Newberry and Silverstreet schools.