Our Story – This Place Exhibition

New Exhibition opens at Mars Hill University’s
Rural Heritage Museum

The History of African American Education in Madison County, North Carolina:
The Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School

Children at the Rosenwald School

Children at the Rosenwald School

Exhibition dates: September 14, 2014 – February, 28, 2015
Reception: September 14, 2014, 1-3 p.m.

This exhibition traces the history of African American education in Western North Carolina, with a particular emphasis on Madison County, from Reconstruction through the period of Civil Rights legislation and the integration in the 1960s.

The Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School played a large role in African American heritage and history in Madison County and Western North Carolina for a good part of the 20th century. The exhibition will focus on the day to day learning experience of the students who attended this school, along with the struggles, hopes, and dreams of their teachers and parents, in the context of the time. The legacy of the Rosenwald education and is impact on their adult lives will also be explored.


Exhibition Highlights

The Rural Life Museum features a permanent tableau of a restored authentic Appalachian log cabin. This area has been converted into a 20-seat theater where visitors will view an introductory video with welcoming greetings from several Rosenwald alumni.

Other exhibition highlights include:

  • Historic artifacts, including a chalkboard, school desks, teaching aids, a reconstructed privy, and other ephemera found at the site of the historic school
  • A “living history” video, featuring interviews with many former Rosenwald school students, that will provide personal recollections and insight
  • Didactic panels describing Madison County and Madison County School Board history and decision making over the years
  • Dozens of historic photographs never before exhibited

Exhibition Programs

To provide additional insight, the Rural Life Museum will host several programs, to include:

September 14, 1-3 p.m. : Opening Reception
For the general public, with special efforts to reach the Mars Hill, Madison County and regional African American communities

October 16, 2014: Lecture by Oralene Simmons, former Rosenwald School student, Great-Great-Grand Daughter of the slave named Joseph Anderson, and the first African American admitted to Mars Hill College, and Susi Anderson, resident of Hawaii and Great-Great-Grand Daughter of the slave-master of Joseph Anderson

November, 13, 2014 Panel Presentation: Personal Recollections of the Rosenwald School
Moderated by Kevin Barnette (Assist. football coach at MHU) to include Anderson
Rosenwald school alumni: Oralene Simmons, Charity Ray, Dorothy Ray, Omar Lewis
McClain, Fatimah Rashida Shabazz, Gene Jones

Changing exhibition: “Madison County Colors From Long Ridge
by Charity Ray, Rosenwald School Alumni, (in the Museum)

Rosenwald School 1920s

Rosenwald School 1920s

The Rural Heritage Museum is open daily (except Mondays) from 1-5 p.m.and by appointment. It is located on Rt. 213, in Montague Hall, on the campus of Mars Hill University. Admission is free. For more information or for group tours, please call (828) 689-1400, or visit the museum website, www.mhu.edu/museum

Mars Hill University is a premier private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees and one graduate degree in elementary education. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina, www.mhu.edu