On August 16th the Courier Journal the front page article titled “Finding Rosenwald Schools” by Chris Poynter told of Louisvillian Sharon Cantrell’s purchase of an abandoned one-room schoolhouse that she plans to restore. Sharon attended the West Point Colored School in the 1950s and said of the school, “It is my history. It makes me smile, just the fact that it is still here.”
The West Point school was built in 1925-26 for three thousand dollars. The estimated cost of renovation is $300,000.
Poynter wrote “The Hardin County school was one of nearly 5,000 that Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company built in the early 1900s to educate African American children.
There were 155 Rosenwald schools in Kentucky that the Kentucky Heritage Society and the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission are attempting to locate.
Rosenwald became wealthy through Sears, Roebuck’s huge mail order business. In 1911 he and African American educator Booker T. Washington worked together in placing schools for black children throughout the South and Southwest.
Rosenwald had architects design the schools with tall windows and natural light. Some were divided with sliding doors making more that one room. The doors were opened for meetings and programs that involved the entire school or community.
Sixty-three of Kentucky’s 120 counties had Rosenwald Clored Shools. Henderson, Webster, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Ohio and Daviess counties had them, only McLean in this area did not have one of the now, very historic schools.
McLean County had three schools for black children, Livermore, Calhoun and Sacramento. Janey Johnston in her first book “Down Memory Lane in Sacramento, Kentucky” wrote, ”The black school was located behind the Sacramento Methodist church. It is not known when it was built but was operating before Clariece Short and America Helm started there in 1924.” The Livermore Colored School was located was located on Myers Street and it is still standing. By 1945 all black children from Sacramento and Livermore were attending the Calhoun Colored School that was located on West Fifth Street in Calhoun.
Those that graduated from eighth grade were transported to Owensboro to attend Western, an all black high school. Ellis Rust who taught at the Owensboro Vocational School had a contact with the county to transport seven county students to Western High School.
The museum is seeking information on the black schools; pictures of the schools, pictures of classes and articles about the students would be of great historic value to the museum. Please send any information to the McLean County History & Genealogy Museum, P. O. 34, Calhoun, KY 42327
The Treasure House will be open today and Friday 27th.