Pikeville's Historic Lincoln Rosenwald School
With its humble façade and nondescript construction, the Lincoln School in downtown Pikeville is easy to overlook. But take a closer look at this historic building and you'll get a unique glimpse into a mostly forgotten chapter of the rural South in the early 20th century.
Beginning in 1912, the Rosenwald school building program, under the auspices of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University), began a major effort to improve the quality of public education for African Americans in the South. This effort led to the establishment of the Rosenwald Fund. By 1928 one in every five rural schools in the South was a Rosenwald school, including the Lincoln School in Pikeville. These schools housed one third of the region’s rural black schoolchildren and teachers. At the program’s conclusion in 1932, it had produced 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes, and 163 shop buildings that served 663,625 students in 15 states. Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Fund contributed more than $4.3 million, and African American communities raised more than $4.7 million.
Many of the Rosenwald schools constructed between 1913 and 1932 remained in operation until the 1960s and 1970s when the 1954 Supreme Court ruling against racial segregation (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka). Some fell into disuse or changed function as rural populations declined. While many schools are gone, there is a growing interest in the history and preservation of existing structures.
The historic Lincoln Rosenwald School at 457 Grove St. in Pikeville was built in 1925 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.