|City/Town: • Lima|
|Location Class: • School|
|Year Built: • 1921 | Year Abandoned: • Late 1980's|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (1984) • African American Heritage Site|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • Jennifer Burton • Leslie Flaming|
The town of Lima, Oklahoma is one of just thirteen historically all-Black towns existing in the state. Named after the local limestone quarries it was incorporated in 1913. Constructed in 1921 by Weathers and Company Architects and Builder J. Smith was the Rosenwald Hall Elementary School. During the early 1900s, educational opportunities for African American schoolchildren were stifled by racism, a shortage of money, and inadequate facilities. Around 1915, Black schools throughout the south received much needed financial assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund.
Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), was a prominent businessman and philanthropist with a net worth of $80 million back then. In 1917 he established the Julius Rosenwald Fund to which he used to donate millions of dollars to fund African American schools throughout the south. In total, the Julius Rosenwald Fund donated $4 million in matching funds to aid in the construction of nearly 5,000 schools that would be known as the Rosenwald Schools. The Rosenwald school building program ended in Oklahoma and nationally in 1932. Of the Rosenwald Schools constructed in all-Black towns in Oklahoma, this is the only one remaining.
Rosenwald Hall is a rectangular red-brick building with white clapboard sections. The brick building served as the elementary school, educating students through the eighth grade. It was an active school until 1966 when schools were desegregating and consolidating causing many rural schools to close. But the small town repurposed the facility as a daycare center until 1985 and after that as the town hall. It has been listed on the Preserve Oklahomas endangered list multiple times. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of August 23, 1984.
Article by AOK Photojournalists Emily Cowan and Jennifer Burton.