Not lost…rediscovered

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PERRYTOWN – An important discovery was made here recently.

That discovery was unveiled during the last Bertie County Board of Education meeting on March 3.

It has been determined that the BOE owns a piece of property on Bethany Church Road where an old Rosenwald School building sits.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald Schools at the top of the most endangered buildings list in 2002.

&uot;We found out last month that Bertie County Schools owns an additional property that we didn’t know about until now, or we did at one time but it was forgotten about,&uot; Superintendent Dr. Chip Zullinger told the school board members.

He continued, &uot;We had a question about that property and upon investigation we found out that we actually own the property and have since 1962.&uot;

Now the board has to consider whether to take control of the property or let it be continue to be used as is.

The property deed says an outside party can use it for Sunday School and for 4-H meetings. It is currently being used for club meetings.

&uot;This is apparently an arrangement dating back to ’62 between Bertie County Schools and the Cherry Sunday School,&uot; Zullinger stated.

Thus, the common name &uot;Cherry School&uot; came about for the facility.

&uot;It was a Rosenwald school, built in 1921, which makes it one of the earliest Rosenwald projects to move forward,&uot; Zullinger noted.

He continued, &uot;With Cherry School, we’re in a really unique position; the school is much like what it was when it was built with some of the original furniture even still in place.&uot;

Though simple by today’s standards, the Rosenwald schools were built to teach African American students using what were, for those days, state-of-the-art architectural plans.

&uot;This is a symbol of the African American community’s dedication to education,&uot; Zullinger stated.

Over $28 million dollars was spent during a 30-year period constructing the schools across the southern states and African-Americans in those local communities raised much of that money.

It is estimated that over one-third of black children in the south attended at least one of the over 5,000 Rosenwald schools in the first half of the twentieth century.

Bertie County’s own part of the Rosenwald legacy, Cherry School, has apparently been in continuous use for one purpose or the other since it was first built.

&uot;This might be the only example of a Rosenwald school in the whole country that was cared for and used by the community for that length of time, 87 years,&uot; Zullinger acknowledged.

He continued, &uot;We should investigate funds that might be available through historic sources to renovate and restore this facility… we might even have one of the most unique Rosenwald schools still in existence.&uot;

The Cherry School building is located on approximately an acre of land and there is even one of the two original outhouses still standing on the property, along with an old well hole.