Minutes from Friday, August 14, 2015

Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting

The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, August 14, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. in the basement fellowship hall of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Attending were: David & Willa Wyatt, Richard Dillingham, Dan Slagle, Edwin & Polly Cheek, Fatimah Shabazz, Teresa Phillips, Ryan Phillips, and Simone Bouyer.

Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. She brought the 8×4 foot poster that was displayed at the Rosenwald School conference. Thanks to Ryan and Richard, the poster shows all of the panels from the exhibition. It can be displayed at Stephens-Lee, at the Mt. Olive Church homecoming, at the school board office, and at any other event or gathering. It is a vinyl poster that can be rolled up. It has grommets on the edges. Our committee received a plaque from the National Historic Trust for participating in the Rosenwald School Conference.

Minutes: The minutes from June 2015 were approved with the following changes: the Walker Branch Cemetary measures 200 feet square; Jimmy Willis asked for right-of-way, he is not the landowner, the Madison County School system is the landowner; Stephens-Lee has a hyphen between the names.

Alumni: Fatimah attended the July 24 meeting at Stephens-Lee. A few people attended: David & Willa, Eugene Jones, Alonzo Ray, Sarah Hart, and Fatimah Shabazz. The center is still being renovated. The plan to create a museum is still underway. Our banner can be displayed at the center for one month. Stephens-Lee alumni meet there every week. Our school is an important part of their history. Fatimah has a page on Facebook for the Mars Hill Rosenwald School. Some comments have been made on the page to identify people in the old photos. A list of alumni are needed. We have about 10 names, we need more. Fatimah is working on a list. Richard has lists of the school districts from the census.

What would be the cost for mailing out a newsletter? The minimum needed to apply for bulk rate is 125 mailed to the same zip code. We estimate we will have about 100 contacts. Can the school board send out mail? Copies of the history are needed, along with the list showing potential uses for the school. Add to the list: education, creativity, performance, museum, community center, family reunions, receptions, gatherings, and tourist destination.

Fundraising: David has made more contacts. Robbie Russell from Wells Fargo has moved on to PNC. PNC Bank can offer a grant. David will meet with someone at Wells Fargo through Fatimah’s contact. He is positive that more funds will come.


Construction: David met with Jimmy Willis and Scott to determine the work needed. Some volunteer work can be done on the interior. We are currently on phase two of the project. Work on the shell and foundation is needed. Jerry and Jimmy visited the school yesterday. Plans are to begin work soon on the windows and foundation. The windows are a very tall size and are hard to find. David is trying to contact the man in Georgia who makes custom windows. There is also a man in Marshall he will ask. The windows from the old rock building in Mars Hill are too narrow. David says we will go as far as we can with the funds we have. He hopes to see construction begin soon. Mt. Olive Church has said they will sponsor a window. There are 10 windows estimated to cost $1,000 each; built and installed the total estimate for the windows is $24,000.


There is a question about the underpinning on th building. It can be covered or left open. The pillars can be exposed with underpinning on the back side. The Department of Cultural Resources recommended that this was the best solution. The original building was all open underneath.


The chimney is now below the roof line. There has been mention of a donation of a pot bellied stove. The chimney would need to come out of the top of the building. It would need to be rebuilt and lined. Bricks are avilable.

The doorways are wider now than they were in the past. Doors have been donated from MHU. The cloak room on the left side of the space will be open. Mars Hill hardware is excited to work on the project.


Financial Report: The Covington Grant application has been submitted for $24,000. It is a matching grant. The siding, an in-kind donation from the Wyatts, was used as the match. The next grant application will be for Wells Fargo. Karen Kiena is working on it. Willa attended a grant workshop. She has a list of other grant opportunites. She will meet with Karen, Sandra Tolley, and Dorothy Rapp to look at the possibilities.

History shows lots of support from the community in regards to matching funds. Community suport is very important, and was required by Rosenwald to build the school. Can we ask community members to honor their ancestors? Request support from family and friends of teachers, committeemen, and students. Can we indentify the community families? Richard says yes, based on student enrollment lists from the 1930s and the 1940s census. He distributed a list showing the number of school-age children in Madison County from 1900-1940. The highest total was 95 in 1900 for ages 6-13. The lowest was in 1940 with 34 children ages 6-13. It would be useful to have family history for the community.

There have been no new funds added to our account. The cost of the storage unit is $35/month. Willa has been paying the bill. It costs $140 to pay for September through December. We have locker #176. The chalk board, the privy, and the desks are stored there. The committee agrees to pay for the storage unit.

Programming: The poster will be displayed outdoors at Mt. Olive Church during Homecoming. Our brochures will be included in the church bulletin. The school will be open for tours on Sunday for sure. Eugene says it’s ok to announce reminders about the work we are doing. A guest book and/or a clipboard are needed to collect contact information. Can one person with a sign-up sheet ask attendees for contact information? Can Sarah Hart’s children help? Any other children or volunteers? Have attendees include their maiden names.


A brochure is needed to ask for support from the community. Homecoming is September 6. A planning meeting will be held on Monday, August 17 at 3pm at the log cabin on the campus of MHU. Richard can provide a partial list of family names from the community. Simone will design the brochure. Polly can provide the wording. Wording can also be picked up from the original Rosenwald grant application and from Willa’s cover letter.


History: Dan found a newspaper article from April 9, 1964 documenting a meeting about a new school for Negroes. Briscoe says parents favor segregation. For integration there was an attorney and one parent. An editorial was also found, dated August 26, 1964 on the psychological burden of integration. Dan is researching NC newspapers through the state archives.


Richard reports that the sisiter of the author of “You Need a Schoolhouse” lives in Asheville. The author’s name is Stephanie Deutsch, she is the granddaughter of Rosenwald. She is open to attending the dedication. She attended the exhibit and knows a lot on the history of Rosenwald. She was impressed at the upkeep of the school. We are grateful to Bob Zink who keeps it mowed.


Media: Please review the illustrated history for any updates or corrections.


Interviews: A trip is planned to Hot Springs. Teresa reported that they did interview David Briscoe. He talked for an hour. He has done lots of reasearch and has detailed information, all caught on film. He has researched family history. Ryan can edit the interview to 10 minutes about the school.


Looking Ahead: Dan would like to organize a work day. On Saturday, September 5 volunteers can help remove floor tiles. Bring tools. Visitors will be in town for Homecoming. They can see that work is being done. We want to salvage the bead board ceilings. Volunteers are needed to carefully remove the beadboard. It should not be demolished. Once the tiles are up we will try to save the floors. Work can be done on any weekday, contact Dan. Work can be done Tuesday, August 18 from 10 am to 12 noon. Simone will send an email.

Boothspace has been donated to our group for the Madison County Fair. It takes place the last weekend in September in Marshall. We can distribute brochures, and share stories. We will have a tent with the big poster. The Heritage Festival takes place in october. Willa will contact Hannah at MHU to confirm.

Other Projects: Google Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School. There is a lot of information out there. Les interviewed David and Willa on WART, the radio station broadcast from the Arts Council in Marshall. The show will air today at 2pm. You can go to www.madisoncountyarts.com to listen. Tom Lassiter, a documentary filmmaker from Greensboro, is coming to visit the school today at 3pm. He is making a film on Rosenwald Schools in the southeast. Richard, Charity and Dorothy led a tour of the school for an MHU history group.

Willa visited a school in Caratuck. They expressed some interest in a regional group. She also visited two other schools. One is a church, and one has a completed exterior. What are the pros and cons of being on the National Registry of Historic Places? There are more pros than cons. One drawback is that we must use single-paned windows. Federal and State funds require that we follow the requirements.

The meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, September 11 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Olive Church in Mars Hill.

Respectfully submitted,
Simone Bouyer