Bel Air Colored School
The Bel Air Colored School was built in 1924 and in 1935 it became bel air high schools for colored children. The school consisted of grades 8-11. Up until this point if black youth wanted to further their education past basic grammar school they would have to travel or move to Baltimore. The school gave new opportunities to those who previously were not fortunate enough to have. The school was in service until the 1960s when it was moved to the Hickory Central Consolidated School. The building is still standing today at 205 Hays Street in Bel Air, Maryland.
Backstory and Context
It was not until 1935 that Bel Air got its first black high school. The school was started in a structure that was constructed in 1924. The structure can be described as one and a half story shiplap sided building, and it has a gable roof, both broad and deep. The building is located on the east side of Hays Street just north of its intersection with the Baltimore Pike in the Town of Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland. The structure is practical, and it is often defined as utilitarian because of the architecture and the purpose it served.
The school allowed students in the area to achieve education beyond grammar school at the school rather than looking for boarding in Baltimore. The funding for the building was partly from the Rosenwald Foundation, a Nashville-based philanthropic organization that was founded by Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932). Rosenwald had developed an interest in African American rural education after he visited the Tuskegee Institution in 1911 at a time he was the chair of the Sears, Roebuck Inc.
The rest of the funds for the construction of the schools were from the Harford County black community, which matched the donation and the county funds. The funding is significant because it shows that there was dedication from the wealthy in society, the community, and support from the county government. The school helped carve out new opportunities for black children for an education. The school officially opened on January 3, 1935, and it only had one teacher known as Steven Moore, who later became the principal of the school. The school had meager resources as it was for black students, but it still served an essential role in the community during the segregation period. The structure was a symbol of hope during a period that was tough for the black community in the region.
Currently, that space is defined as altered as it is used as county offices. Following the start of the new consolidated school at Hickory in 1951 and the enrollment of the first students in 1953, the Bel Air Black high school ceased to exist. The building, however, remains significant to the black community in the area because it serves as a constant reminder of the period of segregation. The structure is representative of the struggles faced by the black community and the slow progress that has been made and continues to be made towards equity and equality.
Larew, Marilynn. Bel Air Colored School, Maryland Historical Trust. July 17th 1979. Accessed November 7th 2019. https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/Harford/HA-1413.pdf.
Fred Rasmussen, S. W. (1993, Sep 14). Stephen P. moore jr., educator, rights activist. The Sun (1837-1994) Retrieved from https://ezproxy.harford.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/2120898560?accountid=11292
Taken on 205 Hays St, Bel air, MD from Nick Clingerman's iphone
Taken on 205 Hays St, Bel Air, MD from Nick Clingerman's iphone