Features of Rosenwald Schools

Second Union School exhibits many of the typical features of Rosenwald school design. Because mandatory construction standards had to be met to receive Rosenwald funding, building plans were published as early as 1915 in The Rural Negro School and Its Relation to the Community. Plans were provided for one-teacher, two-teacher and larger schools, as well as privies and teachers’ homes. By 1920 the Rosenwald Fund was being administered from a new office in Nashville and new designs, created by Samuel L. Smith, were first published in book form as Community School Plans in 1924. Since the Second Union School dates to 1918, it was probably developed in conformance with earlier designs developed by Tuskegee Institute.


Plans for Rosenwald schools generally feature minimal Craftsman detailing including overhanging eaves, exposed brackets, hipped or gable roofs with interior chimneys and bands of double-hung sash windows to provide maximum light. On the interior, the plans called for classrooms with small cloakrooms and an industrial room. The plans for two-teacher schools include a movable partition between classrooms so that the space could be used for a meeting room or auditorium. Second Union School retains many of the features commonly associated with Rosenwald plans, including the modest wood frame construction, its east-west orientation and the banks of large windows to provide maximum light to the classrooms (http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Goochland/037-5051_SecondUnionSchool).

For additional information on Rosenwald Schools, visit: http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/southern-region/rosenwald-schools/PB_Rosenwald_final_revised2012.pdf

 Second Union School - Its Beginning

Second Union School was built on land formerly owned by S. B. Massie and his brother Matthew Massie, inherited from their mother, Lucy Fleming. The Massie parcel contained 49 2/5 acres and was located near “Second Union Colored Baptist Church.” On July 5, 1917, S. B. Massie sold a piece of his property to the Byrd school district.  The school was built using funds from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, while the Fund was in its early years and still based at Tuskegee Institute. The school was probably built using plans and specifications for a two-teacher school developed by the Fund and at a total cost of $2,000. Of that total, the African-American contribution was $150, the public contribution was $1,800, and the Rosenwald Fund contribution was $50. Terms of the Rosenwald Fund required that public and/or private funds be raised in an amount at least equal to the amount of the Fund’s contribution. 


Second Union school played a major role in the Fife/Bula community during the time it served as a school and for a time thereafter. The school was used to educate children until 1959 when students were transferred to an integrated elementary school about a mile away. It was at this time that Goochland County sold the building to the trustees of Second Union Church for $900 dollars. Second Union Church used the school for Sunday school and Bible school classes. When the church built a new Fellowship Hall, the school building became a place for storage. In 2009, a group of interested community members, along with former students of Second Union School, teamed with the  Goochland Historical Society and secured a Lowe’s Grant to renovate the exterior of the school (repairing the roof, windows, concrete steps, building a ramp, painting, replacing rotten side boards) and completing some electrical work inside. The next step for Second Union School, Inc. is to restore the interior of the building and turn it into a museum dedicated to Black American education in Goochland County. 

For more information:http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Goochland/037-5051_SecondUnionSchool



CONTACT: secondunionrosenwaldschool@gmail.com