Canetuck Rosenwald School

CURRIE, NC - As we honor Black History Month, we reflect on the story of the Canetuck Rosenwald School, a testament to resilience, community collaboration, and the pursuit of education in the face of adversity. Built in 1921 in Currie, NC, this institution stands as one of the 5,000 Rosenwald Fund schools championed by Sears, Roebuck and Company president Julius Rosenwald during the era of segregation.

The Rosenwald Fund School Building Program (1917–1932) was a groundbreaking collaboration between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington. This joint initiative aimed to enhance the quality of public education for rural African American children in the Jim Crow South by providing guidance and resources to construct modern schoolhouses. In North Carolina alone, the Rosenwald Fund contributed to the construction of over 800 school buildings, with the Canetuck Rosenwald School being one of them. 

Built on four acres of land, the Canetuck School is a rectangular, wood-frame building featuring a clipped gable roof facing southwest. Mirroring the design principles outlined in the Tennessee Department of Education’s 1921 publication, the classic two-teacher schoolhouse embodies simplicity, efficiency, and functionality.

Notably, the Canetuck School embraced the idea of community gathering, as the partition wall between the main classrooms could be removed to create a large interior space. This flexibility allowed the school to serve as a hub for the larger community, embodying the Rosenwald program's commitment to fostering a sense of unity. 

While many Rosenwald schools faced abandonment in the 1960s and 1970s during the era of court-mandated school integration, the Canetuck Rosenwald School experienced a remarkable revival in 2011 through extensive rehabilitation efforts. Today, it stands as the Canetuck Community Center, hosting various social events, activities, and classes.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us remember and honor the legacy of the Canetuck Rosenwald School—a symbol of resilience, education, and community strength.