MADISON, N.C. -- During the early 1900s, American businessman Julius Rosenwald, along with African American educator Booker T. Washington, built over 5,000 schools across the South. The schools would later be known as Rosenwald Schools.
The schools gave African-Americans better access to education and one such school was built in the Rockingham County town of Madison. Art Martin began his educational career at Madison Colored School in the 1940s. He recalls the fun times in and out of school.
"My best friend lived right there with his grandparents and we use to tear this street up. This was our street," Martin said.
When the school closed in 1950, it became a warehouse then community center. The community center was shut down in the early 2000s when the floors began to crumble.
"It’s not a good feeling but it’s not anything that can’t be corrected,” Martin said.
The old school house is now called the Virginia Dare Scales Rosenwald School. Martin and other members of the alumni association want to renovate the building and make it a part of the community again.
"I am a dreamer. Every time I go by this place, I see something else it could be."
Martin doesn't see the leaky roof or falling floors. He sees a STEM academy and community center. To make this dream a reality, Martin knows the alumni association has to secure more funding from grants and foundations.
"I would really, really love to see it restored. It’s not about blacks but the whole community. This is a community building not about black or white. It’s about the community.”
The school's alumni association hopes to generate more interest in the project by holding a public meeting at the Madison Mayodan Public Library this Tuesday and Wednesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. While it's a big project, the alumni group says the school house can be fixed. In Stokes County, their Rosenwald school is now a senior center.