Scrabble School could become part of national historical park

Site committee visited Rosenwald school ‘and are very pleased and impressed’

Scrabble School, an historic Rosenwald school for African-American students, could become part of a national historical park. By John McCaslin

Efforts to establish a national historical park in the name of Julius Rosenwald is “huge news,” reacts Nan Butler Roberts, President of the Scrabble School Preservation Foundation in Rappahannock County.

“As you may know, the Scrabble School [in] Castleton is a bonafide Rosenwald school, which you, your family members, or friends and acquaintances may have attended or where you may have visited for any number of events and activities over the years, and where Rappahannock County senior citizens enjoy activities and fellowship on a weekly basis,” says Butler Roberts.

“The campaign to establish a national park site is in the early stages of the process. But, this is huge news,” she continues, pointing out that it could have a tremendous impact on the Scrabble School and Rappahannock County as a whole.

“With the creation of a national historic site dedicated to Julius Rosenwald, and current efforts to research the over 5,000 Rosenwald schools built throughout the South, Scrabble School has already been established as a shining example of the refurbishment, restoration, and reuse process that can be achieved through community efforts,” Butler Roberts points out.

“In fact, members of the national park site research committee have already visited Scrabble School and are very pleased and impressed with the results in every way. Additionally, early discussions for the Julius Rosenwald national park site may include ‘satellite’ locations such as the Scrabble School!”

Butler Roberts is encouraging Rappahannock residents to contact their Capitol Hill representatives, House and Senate, to support pending legislation to establish the national historical park. She says this can be easily accomplished by making a phone call, sending an email, or reaching out on social media.

The national Rosenwald Park Campaign says efforts of Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Rep. Danny Davis, Illinois Democrat, have already brought the historical park proposal one step closer to reality.

On June 13, Durbin and Davis jointly introduced the Julius Rosenwald and Rosenwald Schools Study Act (S. 1863/H.R. 3250). The act requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resources study of the sites associated with the life and legacy of Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools, and to determine the best ways to commemorate that chapter of American history.

This study is called critical, as it will be the first step towards legislation to create a National Historical Park, which would honor Rosenwald and his role in establishing schools for African Americans in 15 states throughout the South, including those in Rappahannock County, and promoting African American education and culture across the country.

Durbin noted that Rosenwald’s “commitment to African American education forever changed the lives of many across the rural south.” Davis spoke from personal experience, recalling that he began school in a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher. “Although I did not attend a Rosenwald school, I know the impact of their presence,” Davis said.

The Campaign to Establish the Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park envisions a visitor center in Chicago and a small number of Rosenwald Schools throughout the south, to be selected by the National Park Service, as Butler Roberts hopes is the case with Scrabble.

About John McCaslin 477 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at

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