In the early 1900s, Sears co-owner Julius Rosenwald formed a partnership with Booker T. Washington known as the Rosenwald Fund. The Rosenwald Fund provided funds that led to the construction of some 5,000 schools for African-Americans in the South. Built in 1927, the Billingsville School is one of a few remaining Rosenwald schools.


  • The Billingsville School
    The Billingsville School

In the early years of the twentieth century, businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, co-owner of Sears and Roebuck, developed an interest in the education of African Americans through his association with Booker T. Washington. This concern would lead Rosenwald to create the Rosenwald Fund, which financed the creation of roughly 5,000 African-American schools throughout the South.

Rosenwald schools were innovative for their time. They required matching grants from their communities, and white school boards were required to maintain the schools. Because many of the Rosenwald schools were built in areas that lacked electricity, the buildings were designed to maximize natural light. Before its depletion in 1948, the Rosenwald fund gave over $70 million for the construction of various educational institutions. 

The Billingsville School, located in the historic African-American community of Grier Heights, was built in 1927. The school was one of 26 Rosenwald schools in Mecklenburg County and is still in use as part of Billingsville Elementary. The school underwent a significant restoration in recent years and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

"History of the Rosenwald School Program". National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved 24 May 2017.