The town of Cape Charles, VA has an important piece of history within its boundaries: the Cape Charles Rosenwald School. Originally named Cape Charles Elementary, the school was affectionately called “the school over the hump” by its students because of its location just outside of town. It was built in 1928 as part of a movement inspired by a partnership between Jewish philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald, and education pioneer, Booker T. Washington, to educate African-American children during legalized segregation. Over 5,000 "Rosenwald Schools" were constructed in the rural south. Incorporating state-of-the-art elements of school design, our brick school had four class-rooms, an auditorium and office and was staffed by 3 teachers and a principal/teacher. It taught children in grades 1-7 and served as an important part of local African-American life for many years. The school closed in 1966, and the property was converted to a seafood processing plant that closed in 1977. The building has been sitting vacant for nearly half of a century. Despite neglect, the building maintains a great deal of its historic integrity.
Virginia Humanities funded the publication of a booklet documenting the significance of the Cape Charles Rosenwald School. Click below to see it in its entirety.
The Invisible History of African Americans in Cape Charles is a community service project of the Rotary Club of Cape Charles with support from Virginia Humanities and the Frances Bibbins Latimer Fund. The tour celebrates amazing stories and accomplishments of African Americans in Cape Charles. The Historic Cape Charles Elementary School - a Rosenwald School - is the final stop and capstone on the tour.