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Life and Religion

Historic Siloam School a step closer to preservation
Mecklenburg Co. grant for preservation
 
Published Tuesday, December 10, 2019 8:39 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY
From left: Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio; Commissioners Susan Harden and George Dunlap; Charlotte Museum of History President Adria Focht and Fannie Flono, Save Siloam School Project trustee.

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Mecklenburg County has donated $125,000 for relocation of the historic Siloam School.


The Charlotte Museum of History, which took the lead on preservation and moving efforts in 2017, has $185,000 for the project.

“This school holds history that we need to understand in order to move forward, including the story of segregation and unequal access to education in our community,” said Mecklenburg County Commissioners Chairman George Dunlap, who represents District 3 where the school sits. “The preserved Siloam School will be a place for the people of Mecklenburg County to engage in discussions around some of these issues that are still affecting us today, including inequity.”

In 2016, the Historic Landmarks Commission estimated it would cost $50,000 to relocate the structure and an additional $150,000 to restore it. The Charlotte Museum of History intends to give the schoolhouse a new home on museum property. They began efforts to raise $600,000 under former museum president Kay Peninger ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the Rosenwald Foundation in 2017.

“This latest infusion of capital from Mecklenburg County brings us one step closer to our goal of relocating the Siloam School to The Charlotte Museum of History campus and preserving the building and its story for future generations,” museum President Adria Focht said in a statement. “The Siloam School represents important Charlotte and national history that should not be lost.”

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The Jim Crow-era schoolhouse, which educated African American children, is on the National Register of Historic Places and considered endangered due to its state of disrepair. Funds raised would move, restore and maintain the building. The city of Charlotte provided $50,000 to move the school in January.

The building currently sits at Mallard Highlands Drive, its original site, near UNC Charlotte, and behind an apartment complex. A historical marker would be placed at the school’s original location once it is moved.

“Our vision is for the restored building to become an educational space for programs and exhibits that foster dialogue, particularly around racial cooperation and reconciliation,” said Fannie Flono, trustee for The Charlotte Museum of History and chair of the Save Siloam School Project. “The museum also plans to give tours of the building and to make the space available as a community resource.”

Some Rosenwald Schools built throughout the South during the early 20th century were established by communities, such as the Siloam school, while others received funding from the Rosenwald Foundation. George E. Davis—Johnson C. Smith University’s first African American professor—was the Rosenwald agent. He oversaw the construction of 813 schools across North Carolina and 26 in Mecklenburg County.

“The Siloam School was a place of learning born out of hope and hard work in the face adversity,” said Susan Harden, Mecklenburg County District 5 Commissioner. “When the building is restored, it will once again be a place for education, this time for all the people of Mecklenburg County. That seems like a fitting second chapter for the school, one we hope the school’s founders would be proud of.”

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