In June 2020, Vince Ory, with the Claiborne Parish Library, and Beverly E. Smith contacted the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation to say that they discovered what may have been a Rosenwald School. Further research confirmed that it was the Mt. Olive Rosenwald School, constructed in 1920, at a cost of $3,600. The local Black community provided $1,500; Rosenwald Fund, $1,200; and the Claiborne Parish School Board provided $900 towards construction. Parishioners of the adjacent Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church maintained the building after the school system was integrated and are responsible for the building surviving to this day. In recent years, portions of the metal roof have become damaged, allowing rot to occur. Little else has changed in the building over the past century.
Northwest Louisiana had the highest concentration of Rosenwald Schools in the state. Caddo Parish led with thirty-seven schools, followed by Claiborne Parish (thirty-four), Bienville Parish (twenty-four), and Webster Parish (twenty-three).
News of the Mt. Olive Rosenwald School inspired the Louisiana Trust to begin an inventory of original buildings constructed using the Rosenwald Fund. Goals include mapping schools’ locations, identifying which original buildings remain, and assessing their needs in order to assist in saving them. Some school buildings constructed with Rosenwald Funds were replaced by more modern buildings as the number of students increased. Other public schools may have been constructed using the plans and elevations of Rosenwald’s Community Schools, but were not funded by the program. These plans may have been readily available in the school board office and would have facilitated construction without the need to hire an architect for the design.
For more information contact: Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation