Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee Meeting
Minutes from Friday, September 11, 2015
The Anderson Rosenwald Project Planning Committee met on Friday, September 11, 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, Omar McClain, Dorothy & Ray Rapp, Fatimah Shabazz, Ryan Phillips, Charity Ray, and Simone Bouyer.
Willa welcomed everyone to the meeting. She distributed the agenda, financial report, and the legacy donations pamphlet. She also shared notecards displaying Charity’s painting of the school. Willa has organized all of the materials for our group into notebooks: history, minutes, funding, and preservation.
Minutes: The minutes from August 2015 were approved with the following changes: doorways are narrower now than in the past.
Alumni: Fatimah reported that no meeting was held at Stephens Lee in August. Thanks to Richard, family names were provided for the legacy donations pamphlet. Progress was made on acquiring alumni contact information. Thanks to Ryan and the Wyatts, the Mars Hill Rosenwald School history banner was displayed at the church during the homecoming event. About 20 people surrounded it all day! It was not disrupting to the event at all. Alonzo Ray knew most of the names of the people on the history banner. Lots of storys were told. Alonzo attended the school in the 1940s.
It was a fun, fabulous day. Both Omar and Fatimah spoke with many people. They had clipboards and collected about 20-25 names. They passed out copies of the illustrated history, brochures, hand fans, and the legacy pamphlet. They also compiled folders with information about the school for folks to take with them. Their heritage and connection to the school is important. It was nice to present people with all of our hard work. They will be contacting those people and thanking them for their time. They plan to keep all contacts updated on the history and progress of the school. Fatimah will send them thank you notes. Some photos were taken at the event. Plans are to send alumni a newsletter with updates at least twice a year. They will compile information on each contact. Fatimah will email photos.
Fundraising: Willa made and laminated more hand fans. Madison county schools can copy and print the illustrated history in black and white. Also fine for the newsletter.
Richard, Polly, Simone, and Willa met to create the legacy handout. The plan was to get alumni involved through a list of family names originally associated with the construction of the school. Richard found names from the 1930s and 1940s census. He provided text on ways the community supported the school. Polly wrote the supporting text on the history of the school. Richard noted how many school-aged children were in each town. Simone created a black and white phamplet with the information provided. Color copies of the pamphlet are available for the funding packages. The pamphlet included potential uses for the school and the list of materials needed for the rehabilitation of the school. This handout will be included in alumni packages. Omar visited Marshall and found the handout useful in identifying families. He is related to the Stokley’s. There are some errors in the spelling of the names, attributed to the census taker.
David got a call from Robbie Russell. Robbie retired from Wells Fargo and will provide contact information for the the new director. He is still supportive of the project and is now working with PNC Bank. David has handed out more packets. He is expecting financial support for the project this month from other groups. He will contact the Burnsville branch of PNC.
The Covington grant application was submitted. Karen submitted the preliminary paperwork to Wells Fargo. The school’s 501c3 status is clear now and grant applications may be filed. The Wells Fargo grant application was to go first to Robbie Russell, then to the corporation. Now it is going directly to the corporation. Robbie will still help in opening channels. There is also a Credit Union grant, and an arts grant. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Foundation is not funding any projects like ours.
Construction: David is working on finding windows. There are few prospects and pricing has increased. The windows must meet the Historic Trust standards. He will meet with Kathy at the Historic Trust for ideas. The man in Georgia now wants $1,800 per window. Mars Hill Hardware (Jimmy Willis) is working on prices for the addition and shell work. David is hopeful we will see improvements to the building by winter. He will meet with a man in Marshall about the windows and will have more news by the next meeting. Katherine Carrie at the Trust in Charleston may have some leads on windows. Willa will write to her. Willa has also asked Annie McDonald and Jennifer Kathy. The windows must be single paned. The Trust is adamant that the windows match the originals.
David attended a conference on restoring old buildings. He is looking into possibilites. Jimmy is the general contractor for our project. Scott Donald is also involved. Double paned windows from Marvin Windows cost $1,500 each. The top portion can be stationery, only the bottom portion needs to open. Will that change the price? Windows have become our big challenge.
Fatimah has donated siding for the school. Dan can bring it up on a trailer. It can be stored in the carport next to the school. Dan spoke to Phillip, who owns the property next to the school. It is ok to use the carport. Scott is talking to French Broad EMC about a heating and cooling unit for the school.
Dan organized two workdays, August 18 and September 5. Ryan, Willa, and David pulled up floor tiles. There are about four hours of work left. He will schedule another work day. Saturdays work best. Tiles go into orange bags for the landfill.
History: Dan is researching in local newspapers. Some news was found. On February 10, 1955 special recognition was given to the Mars Hill colored school for raising funds for the March of Dimes. The article names those who gave to the fund. In Febrary 1956 names were again noted for the March of Dimes. Mentioned that students were in grades 1-6 at the school. He found a budget from 1928 for the school. It shows the Rosenwald Fund, figures and salaries. Fuel costs were noted along with pages of sources and expenses. He gave the report to David. Thanks to Alonzo, Dan can now date the photos from the exhibition. Some children from Hot Springs attended the school. They took the train into Marshall, then a bus to Mars Hill. When the hotel in Hot Spring burned, many families moved. Some moved to Mars Hill. Documentation is needed.
Willa noted that Madison county was considered a backwards county based on the number of black students in our area. They made up less than 5% of the county population.
Programming: Ray asks about the potential uses of the buliding. Can we hold a focus group at a future meeting? We could provide support for local groups. Great opportunity to talk about the use of the building and contributions could be sought. Good for grants. Invite others to the meeting. There are many who still don’t know about the school. A list is needed of groups, schools, contacts, and real commitments. Important to have such a list for grants and funding. The Beech Glen community has a great facility, and they are struggling to support it. Potential contacts include the Rotary club, senior groups, the school board, Mt. Olive, the community diversity coordinator and MHU, the NAACP. Can our group complete the list by November?
The school can seat 75 people, fewer if they are at tables. Calculations are based on county code and square footage of the building. The school board carries insurance on the school. Willa hopes the banner can be displayed in the county offices on the bypass in Marshall. Plans are to meet with Dr. Wilcox and display the banner to the school board.
Willa asks Ryan if a video could be created by February for Black History month. It could include some interviews and the exhibit. Will will meet with the curriculum director for the school system. The video would be good for history classes or community studies. It could be a nice educational piece.
Interviews: Ryan completed an hour long interview with David Briscoe. The video can be found on the website and on YouTube. Please watch it. Mr. Briscoe has an interesting perspective on life. Ryan plans to create a ten minute verision of the Briscoe interview. Ryan also completed a video of the museum exhibition that shows the panels. There are two versions, one has Les discussing the exhibit.
Looking Ahead: Our next meeting will be held at the Wyatt’s cabin in Petersburg. We will work on a list of names to contact for any supporting groups, organizations, associations, and schools. MHU will hold a Founders Program on Monday, October 12 at 4 p.m. at the Joe Anderson memorial. A cherry tree will be planted in honor of Oralene Simmons, and a new kiosk unveiled.
The Mars Hill Heritage festival takes place October 3. No invitation has been received. We could display the banner. Willa and David can’t attend. Willa will contact Hannah at MHU. Our group has decided not to have a booth at the County Fair. Heritage Weekend takes place every Saturday from 10-12 noon in September and October at the I-26 Welcome Center. Visitors to our area stop in at the Welcome Center. We have been invited to have a booth on October 17. We can share the history of the school. We received $15k from Madison County Tourism Development for the exhibit. This heritage weekend ties in with tourism in our area. Can alumni attend? Can there be signs up directing people to the school? What about permanent signage? Brown historic signs require many levels of applications.
Media: The brochures have the wrong date for our monthly meetings. Should be the second Friday. A new poster is needed showing the original school, how the school looks now, and what the future school would look like. Ideas are sought.
Other Projects: Tom Lassiter, the documentary filmmaker from Greensboro, relied on the website for information about our school. Paul Eggers wants to do a feature story on the school. He will visit the school next Thursday at 9 a.m. Richard asks that we remind folks about the copyrights on the history and banner. If these materials are used for commercial purposes, we should charge a fee. How much?
The gateway property was purchased by a man in Marshall. He plans to build a house. Ideas are needed for a Rosenwald Alumni reunion. Possible dates are needed. David celebrated his 73 birthday today!
The meeting adjourned at 12:22 p.m.
The Friends of the Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School will meet again Friday, October 9 at 10 a.m. at the Wyatt’s cabin in Petersburg.