National Park Service Awards Virginia $75,000 to Produce Historic Context on African American Schools

Published March 12, 2024

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
For Immediate Release
March 12, 2024

Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager

—The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) will use the funds, which were allocated as part of the National Park Service (NPS) 2023 Underrepresented Communities Grant Program, to develop an African American Schools Multiple Property Document and to nominate an associated property to the National Register of Historic Places—

RICHMOND – The Commonwealth of Virginia has been awarded $75,000 in grant funds through the NPS Underrepresented Communities Grant Program to support the development of a statewide historic context report for African American schools. The project will result in a Multiple Property Document (MPD), a NPS form used for documenting topically related historic properties. The information in MPDs can be used to streamline the nomination of related individual sites or historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places. This project helps DHR meet an agency objective to increase the number of Virginia properties significant to minority, underrepresented, tribal, and diverse communities listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as outlined in Virginia's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022-2027.

To illustrate how the MPD can simplify the nomination of African American schools, this project will also result in a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Cuckoo School in Louisa County. The two-room Cuckoo School was constructed ca. 1925 as a public school for African American children and is representative of many similar schools in operation before African American school consolidation efforts began in the 1930s.

This project is not DHR’s first effort to increase the number of African American schools on the National Register of Historic Places. The Julius Rosenwald Fund is well-known as an important program that helped construct schools and provide supplies for African American children in the South between 1917 and 1937. In 2004, DHR developed a MPD for Rosenwald Schools, which resulted in the listing of 26 Virginia Rosenwald Schools in the National Register of Historic Places. The historic context and architectural analysis within the MPD also served as a publicly available research document and provided the basis for a statewide survey of extant Rosenwald Schools completed by Preservation Virginia in 2018.

Current efforts made possible by the NPS 2023 Underrepresented Communities Grant Program will look beyond the Rosenwald Fund era by addressing African American schools built from approximately 1870 until 1965 that used a variety of funding sources. It is anticipated that the resulting MPD will help broaden understanding of African American education in Virginia from the end of the Civil War through the Great Depression.

About the NPS Underrepresented Communities Grant Program
Virginia is one of 19 states and the District of Columbia to be awarded a NPS Underrepresented Communities Grant. The program operates to survey and nominate sites and districts associated with communities that are underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places. The Underrepresented Communities grant program began in 2014 and has provided $7 million to State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and Certified Local Governments to work toward diversifying the National Register of Historic Places through surveys and nominations. The program was issued under Federal Assistance Listing 15.904, also known as the Historic Preservation Fund, which uses revenue from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to provide assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars.


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