The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council is granting the University of Central Arkansas $634,594 to restore the Bigelow Rosenwald School.
Originally built in 1926, the Bigelow Rosenwald School was an elementary school that aimed to advance African American children’s education.
“Rosenwald Schools remain a cornerstone of African American communities, but their existence and the important role they played in education and history is not widely known,” says UCA President Houston Davis.
Although 389 Rosenwald Schools once stood tall in Arkansas, only 18 of the buildings remain in the state today. Rosenwald Schools have been named endangered historic places by both the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2002 and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas in 2012.
Although the school now acts as a community cultural center, the ANCRC grant will add an expanded mission to the historic space.
According to a statement released by the University of Conway, “Upon completion, the facility will serve as a museum that educates visitors on the historical significance of Rosenwald Schools in African American communities in the south. It will also remain a community cultural center for Bigelow and will become a location where UCA can host community classes, meetings and other gatherings.”
The Bigelow Rosenwald School project adds to an impressive list of restoration properties the ANCRC has sponsored in Arkansas.
“The ANCRC Trust Fund has funded over $400 million in projects since its first grants were made in 1989,” says Stacy Hurts, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism and secretary of the ANCRC.
The ANCRC funded the rehabilitation of the Arkansas State Capitol, Old Main at the University of Arkansas, the Johnny Cash Home in Dyess and more properties throughout Arkansas.
“Many well-loved buildings and properties have been saved for future generations by the fund, and we are a better state for it,” says Hurts.