ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Jan. 26, 2024) – Another portion of Elizabeth City State University’s (ECSU) federally designated historic district is on its way to being fully restored. The Rosenwald Practice School received the first of many new windows to the fully in-tact building thanks to a rehabilitation grant from the National Park Service (NPS) Historic Preservation Fund African American Civil Rights Grant program and its HBCU grant program.  

Under the leadership of former ECSU history professor, Melissa N. Stuckey, three grants totaling nearly $2 million will be used to rehabilitate the Rosenwald School building and the nearby Principal’s House. Together, the buildings will house the future Northeastern North Carolina African American Research and Cultural Heritage Institute. These facilities will serve as educational and interpretive sites where students and community members can preserve, protect, and interpret the history of African American educational endeavors during segregation. 

“After so many years of work – planning, securing funding, and maintaining momentum through several challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic – it is thrilling to be at this stage of the project,” she said. “We are seeing work completed, involving ECSU students, faculty, and staff, and collaborating with new partners. Getting to this point is the realization of a dream conceived of and worked toward by many members of the ECSU family, past and present.” 

Stuckey, now associate professor and director of Public History at the University of South Carolina, remains the award’s principal investigator. Keeping the project going is a testament to the hard work involved, she said.  

In 2023, ECSU celebrated the 100th anniversary of the school on its campus. Rosenwald schools are known for providing educational avenues for Black students in the American South during the era of segregation. ECSU is the only college campus in North Carolina with an intact Rosenwald School building.  

Educators and historians working on the rehabilitation project are hopeful the building’s presence will invigorate the campus community, and the public’s interest and knowledge about northeastern North Carolina’s African American history. 

Other work being completed on the Rosenwald School building in this phase of the project includes removing drop ceiling tiles to reveal original ceiling and woodwork, repairing the front porch, repairing siding, painting, and replacing roof shingles. All construction is expected to be completed by 2025. 

Two separate National Park Service and Institute of Museum and Library services grants totaling $175,000 will be used to research, design, build, and install exhibits in the rehabilitated buildings. The new grant work will build on previous planning and design work completed with a $50,000 grant awarded by the Institute of Museum of Library Services in 2019.  

“The completed project will not just tell the history of ECSU’s Rosenwald School, but will be a hub for faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to share their stories and tell their histories together,” Stuckey said.