Those approximately 5,000 schools have informally been known as Rosenwald Schools, and as it turns out, one of them is located in Griffin.
Built during the Great Depression, the old Fairmont School on the corner of Third Street and Jefferson Avenue, which saw its last graduating class in 1970 before merging with Griffin High School, is the 50th Rosenwald School still standing, according to Jeanne Cyriaque, African-American programs coordinator with the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Cyriaque first noticed the connection in July of last year.
“It’s kind of special. It’s very significant for the African-American community,” she said, as she spoke to past graduates of Fairmont School during a visit in Griffin Tuesday.
“This is something we are excited about,” said Shirley Gardner, chaplain of the Fairmont High Alumni Association. “We can’t know where we are going if we don’t know where we came from.”
Once the local school system transfers the property to Spalding County, county officials could decide to apply for a grant already available to secure and stabilize the old school.
The building has been unoccupied and is deteriorating, said Louis Greene, director of the Spalding County Parks & Recreation Department, which would be operating the building for the county if it is restored.
If such plans become reality, the original Rosenwald School would serve as a Black History Museum, an adjacent building could be turned into a community center and the school’s old gym, which was also added later in time, might be used as a banquet hall, said Greene.
“We can see the use for it, we’ve just got to find the funds,” he said.
Fairmont School’s history as a Rosenwald School will be featured on WSB-TV’s “People 2 People,” which will air Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on Channel 2.