Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Special Resource Study

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The National Park Service (NPS) is pleased to announce the launch of a special resource study of sites associated with the life and legacy of American businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.  As directed by Congress in the Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald School Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-336), the study will focus on sites associated with Julius Rosenwald in the following locations:  

- Sears Administration Building at Homan Square in Chicago, Illinois. 
- Rosenwald Court Apartments in Chicago, Illinois. 
- Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago, Illinois. 
- Rosenwald House (formerly the Lyon Home) at the Lincoln Home National
Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. 
- Cairo Rosenwald School, a one-teacher school in Sumner County, Tennessee. 
- Shady Grove School, a one-teacher school in Louisa County, Virginia. 
- Noble Hill School, a two-teacher school in Bartow County, Georgia. 
- Ridgeley School, a two-teacher school in Prince George's County, Maryland. 
- Bay Springs School, a two-teacher school in Forrest County, Mississippi. 
- Russell School, a two-teacher school in Durham County, North Carolina. 
- Shiloh Rosenwald School, a three-teacher school in Macon County, Alabama. 
- San Domingo School, a four-teacher school in Wicomico County, Maryland. 
- Elmore County Training School, a seven-teacher school in Elmore County,
- Dunbar Junior High, Senior High and Junior College in Little Rock, Arkansas.   

The four sites in Illinois are associated with Rosenwald's life and philanthropy.  The remaining ten sites are Rosenwald school sites in eight states.

The National Park Service will evaluate the properties listed above, individually and collectively, using congressionally established criteria for national significance, suitability, feasibility, and need for direct NPS management. Based on the analysis, the National Park Service will determine whether each site meets the criteria for inclusion in the national park system and will prepare the study for the Secretary of the Interior. (If a study site does not meet all four criteria, the study process usually concludes.) The study findings and any recommendations will then be submitted to Congress for consideration. New NPS units can only be established by an act of Congress or by presidential proclamation.

The National Park Service will use this website to display public information throughout the course of this study. Public meeting information will be posted here, along with project updates.

As we begin the special resource study, we would like to engage the public in discussions about the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald schools.  Virtual (online) town hall meetings are scheduled for July 6 (Illinois sites) and July 7 (Rosenwald Schools), 2022, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT. Information about these online meetings will be posted under the "Meeting Notices" link at the left side of this webpage.

We hope you will join us during the public meetings and share your thoughts through this website during the open comment period, July 1 - July 31, 2022.

What is a Special Resource Study?

A special resource study evaluates the eligibility of an area to be designated as a national park or other special designation. The National Park Service collects and evaluates information about the resources in the study area. If the resources meet the criteria for national significance and suitability, the National Park Service evaluates the potential for visitor enjoyment and analyzes the feasibility and appropriateness of different management options compared to existing management. The National Park Service provides its findings to the Secretary of the Interior, who then presents a recommendation to Congress for consideration. Regardless of the outcome of the study, new units of the national park system can only be established by an act of Congress or by presidential proclamation.

How will the sites associated with Julius Rosenwald be evaluated?   

The National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 (Title 54 United States Code 100507) established the process for identifying and authorizing studies of new national park units. Under the law, a study area must meet all four of the following criteria to be recommended as an addition to the national park system:

1. Contain nationally significant natural and/or cultural resources.

2. Represent a natural or cultural resource that is not already adequately represented in the national park system or is not comparably represented and protected for public enjoyment by another land-managing entity.

3. Must be: (a) of sufficient size and appropriate configuration to ensure long-term protection of the resources and visitor enjoyment, and (b) capable of efficient administration by the National Park Service at a reasonable cost; important feasibility factors include landownership, acquisition costs, life-cycle maintenance costs, access, threats to the resource, and staff or development requirements.

4. Require direct NPS management that is clearly superior to other management approaches.

NPS personnel will evaluate each study site identified in the legislation according to the above criteria for national significance, suitability, feasibility, and need for NPS management.

Project Background

Julius Rosenwald was born in Springfield, Illinois, on August 12,1862, to a middle-class family of German Jewish immigrants. As an early investor in Sears, Roebuck & Co., he oversaw the company during a time of tremendous growth and amassed a fortune of more than $200 million, serving as company president from 1908 to 1924 and as chairman until his death in 1932. Four sites named in the legislation represent Rosenwald's life, career, and philanthropy in Chicago and Springfield: the Sears Administration Building, the Rosenwald Court Apartments, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Rosenwald's boyhood home in Springfield. The virtual public meeting on July 6 will focus on these four sites.

Julius Rosenwald focused much of his philanthropy on expanding opportunities available to African Americans during the time of Jim Crow segregation policies. Encouraged by Booker T. Washington, Rosenwald provided "challenge grants" to build schools in areas where little if any educational opportunities were available to African Americans. Rosenwald agreed to pay a portion of the funds for building schools if communities and local governments funded the majority of the costs for construction. From 1912 to 1932, more than 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built throughout the South. The schools were built with standardized plans developed by Robert R. Taylor with assistance from William A. Hazel and George Washington Carver at the Tuskegee Institute. Over the course of the school-building program, the design and orientation of the schools improved lighting, ventilation, and sanitation for Black schools in Southern states. By the time public schools became racially integrated following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, approximately one-third of African American students in the US South had attended a Rosenwald-funded public school. The virtual public meeting on July 7 will focus on the Rosenwald Schools identified in the study legislation.   

Thank you for your interest in the Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Special Resource Study.  

Contact Information

Carrie Miller
NPS Washington Support Office

For general inquires you can email the study team at rosenwaldstudy@nps.gov.