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Malvern Rosenwald School

The Malvern Rosenwald School was constructed in 1929 with support from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2005. After serving as a school for many years, the building was used for various community programs.

The Julius Rosenwald Fund offered financial support to projects to construct buildings for the education of African Americans across the South. State records indicate that the fund aided in the building of a total of 389 school buildings (schools, shops, and teachers’ homes) in forty-five counties in Arkansas. (A total of 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes, and 163 shop buildings were built in fifteen states across the South with the assistance of more than $4.3 million from the Rosenwald Fund.) In 1929 alone, money from the fund helped construct twenty-nine buildings and three additions to schools in Arkansas, including the school in Malvern (Hot Spring County). It received $2,100 in support from the Rosenwald fund, with an additional $16,150 coming from public funds and $200 from the local African-American community, for a total cost of $18,450. While the Rosenwald Fund offered schools the use of complete architectural plans, the school in Malvern was constructed according to a custom plan.

The original redbrick building contained eight classrooms and an auditorium. Set on a continuous cast concrete and brick foundation, the building is topped with an asphalt-shingled gabled roof. The roof also includes four small dormers on the front of the building, and two chimneys are located on the southwest corner. The building faces east and is fronted by a small porch. A small gable covers the front porch and was originally supported by four columns; one was later removed for the installation of a wheelchair ramp. Rosenwald schools were designed to take advantage of natural light in an effort to keep utility costs down. Large banks of windows are located on both the front and rear of the school to take advantage of the early morning and later afternoon sun, but most of the windows were later covered with siding.

Two additions were constructed as the enrollment at the school grew. The first was added in 1945 and the second around 1955. When the original building was constructed, it housed the first through ninth grades. High school classes were not offered to black students in Malvern, forcing them to attend school in other cities, including Little Rock (Pulaski County). Parents of students at the school also became concerned about the curriculum and lack of qualified teachers, and in response to these concerns, the additional grades were added to the school over a period of several years, beginning in 1942. The first seven students to complete twelve years of classes graduated in 1945.

The increased number of grades offered at the school and a growing population led to overcrowded conditions. The first addition was constructed on the south end of the building and included several classrooms; it was designed to match the architecture of the original building. The second addition included more classrooms with large windows, and it is topped with a flat roof rather than a gabled one.

Wilson High School opened for black students in 1952 to relieve some of the pressure on the Rosenwald School, which continued to operate as Tuggle Elementary School, named for longtime teacher Sophronia Tuggle. It is unclear when the school closed, but it was likely around 1970, when the Malvern School District integrated. The building was utilized for a Head Start program until 2003 and housed programs of the Central Arkansas Development Council for several years. In 2018, it was unoccupied.

For additional information:
“Malvern Rosenwald School.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/HS0156.nr.pdf (accessed July 3, 2018).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 7/3/2018

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