ATLANTA, August 22, 2023— The Georgia Trust has been awarded $694,522 by the National Park Service (NPS) Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program. The grant will go toward the preservation of the Eleanor Roosevelt School in Warm Springs, Ga., the last Rosenwald School to be constructed in the country, fulfilling a promise to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to build an African American school in that community.
The National Park Service recently awarded a total of $21 million to 37 projects in 16 states as part of the Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program, which funds preservation projects and efforts of sites tied to the struggle of African Americans to gain equal rights.
“The National Park Service is proud to award this grant funding to our state and local government, and nonprofit partners to help them recognize places and stories related to the African American experience,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams. “Since 2016, the African American Civil Rights program has provided over $100 million to document, protect, and celebrate the places, people and stories of one of the greatest struggles in American history.”
The Eleanor Roosevelt School was built in 1936 at the behest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the community in his adopted retreat of Warm Springs. Named for the First Lady, the Eleanor Roosevelt School was the last school constructed with money from the Rosenwald Fund, which used matching grants to construct quality school buildings for African American children in the rural South between 1912-1936. President Roosevelt’s headstrong passion for this project was reflected by his own financial backing. He wrote a personal check to complete the financing required to begin construction and was the keynote speaker at its dedication in 1937. Until the mid-1960s, the school served grades one through eight, and it closed in 1972 as a result of countywide integration. The Georgia Trust received the property through its Revolving Fund in 2019 and sold it to private owners in February 2020.
Grant funds will secure the site and provide exterior stabilization with a new roof and restoration of windows, doors and masonry. The project will also include comprehensive architectural drawings that will be used to develop a full preservation plan of the interior spaces to plan for the property’s complete rehabilitation and sustainability. The Georgia Trust will manage the project in partnership with the owners of the Roosevelt School, Debron and Voncher Walker.
A ceremonial kickoff event, including a tour of the site, will be held at the Eleanor Roosevelt School on Sept. 7 from 1-3 p.m. with the Georgia Trust and the owners of the property. Other attendees will include Franklin Roosevelt’s great-grandson, representatives from the Little White House and Eleanor Roosevelt School alumni. The school building is located at 350 Parham Street, Warm Springs, Ga. 31830. The event is free and open to the public.
About the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
Celebrating 50 years, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.
As one of the country’s leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations, the Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia’s “Places in Peril.” The Trust recognizes preservation projects and individuals with its annual Preservation Awards and honors students and young professionals with the Neel Reid Prize and Liz Lyon Fellowship. The Trust offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children, provides technical assistance to property owners and historic communities, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts, and manages two house museums in Atlanta (Rhodes Hall) and Macon (Hay House). To learn more, visit www.georgiatrust.org.