Lunchtime Lagniappe at the LASHOF&HM-Rosenwald Schools in Louisiana

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum was host to a dedicated crowd of history lovers Friday, July 21 for this month’s installment of the popular “Lunch & Learn” program concerning the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training’s (NCPTT) documentation of Louisiana’s surviving Rosenwald School buildings.

The talk was given by NCPTT intern John Richardson, a Morehouse College psychology major from Philadelphia. He is spending the summer working at the center and learning about its preservation mission. Mr. Richardson was on a team documenting the buildings using laser equipment to produce a 3-D model.

The schools were financed by Sears executive and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald who would match money raised by local sources. The facilities were built to provide schools for African American children. The schools were built from common designs and would arrive in kits similar to the Sears houses then sold by Sears. Over 5,000 of the schools were built throughout the South, with 395 of them in Louisiana. Of those, 18 are still standing, one serving as a community center in Powhattan. There is also one, standing after a fashion, below the waters of Toledo Lake.

The Rosenwald Schools, who at one point were educating about a fifth of the African American children on the South, were built from 1912 to 1932. They fulfilled a vital function of providing educational opportunities during a time of segregation and discrimination when there were little or no opportunities for African American families to educate their children.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal trusts that Mr. Richardson enjoyed his time in Natchitoches and found it productive. We also wish him all the best as he returns to Morehouse College to complete his studies.