Switchback School

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Switchback School, also known as Union Hurst School, was completed in 1924 using building plans and money from the Julius Rosenwald Fund to leverage additional financial support from the local black community as well as the Bath County school board. The Rosenwald fund, established by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute, provided crucial support for the construction of more than 5,000 schools in 15 southern states between 1917 and 1932, offering educational opportunities to African Americans during an era when public schools were segregated. Several generations of black students from the Hot Springs area attended Switchback School. The one-story, frame building, typical of the rural Rosenwald schools, stands on its original site and preserves a substantial amount of its historic building materials. The school, which began as a two-teacher facility later enlarged by the serial addition of two classrooms, is one of two Rosenwald-sponsored schools built in Bath County. It is also one of approximately 70 still surviving out of the 364 that were built across Virginia. Switchback School closed in 1965 when Bath County ended its official policy of segregation. Secondary contributing historic resources on the site include a late 1930s stone and concrete cistern and three stone walls, structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Last Updated: February 2, 2024

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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