In the early years of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck & Co., worked with famed Black educator Booker T. Washington and grassroots leaders across the South to build more than 5,000 schools for Black children. Acworth’s Rosenwald School was built in 1924 and served students until 1947. Saved from demolition in 1948, it was rebuilt on its current site and now operates as a community center. Join us as we explore the history and legacy of this Cobb County landmark. Presenters include Rosenwald school expert Dr. Becky Ryckeley, Marti Rosner and Frye Gaillard, authors of the book Ezra Wants to Know: The True Story of the Rosenwald Schools, and Acworth Alderman Tim Houston.
Admission is $10 per person. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Space is limited. Admission includes a signed copy of the book “Ezra Wants to Know: The True Story of the Rosenwald Schools," a tour of the historic Acworth Rosenwald School and Doyal Hill Park, and entry into a raffle for a door prize awarded at the end of the night. Additional copies of the book will be available for purchase as well as an opportunity to have them signed by the authors.
WHAT: A Nearer Approach to Justice: Rosenwald Schools in the Jim Crow South
WHEN: February 17, 2022 7:00pm
WHERE: Acworth Rosenwald School, 4410 Cherokee Street Acworth, GA 30101
ABOUT OUR GUEST SPEAKERS
Becky Ryckeley, Ph.D. currently works as the Coordinator for Social Studies, Gifted, and Advanced Placement for Fayette County Public Schools. She has served as a county coordinator in two metro counties, and prior to that taught 5th grade, middle school, and high school social studies. In 2015, Becky successfully defended her dissertation, The Rural School Project of the Rosenwald Fund. Becky has been married to Rick and is the doting grandmother to Kendall and Caroline.
Marti S. Rosner has been an educator for forty-three years. She has worked as a classroom teacher, a District Academic Coach serving Title I schools in Cobb County, GA, and recently, taught Writing Workshop to teachers and students in her granddaughter’s elementary school. Now she serves as a school reading tutor. Through the years, Marti has enjoyed teaching a variety of professional development classes, presenting at state conferences, serving as a Teacher Consultant for the National Writing Project, and training teachers across the country as a curriculum consultant for Sundance Newbridge, an educational publishing company. With Frye Gaillard she is co-author of two children’s books, The Slave Who Went to Congress and Ezra Wants to Know: The True Story of the Rosenwald Schools. Her dog and two grandchildren keep her hopping, as they love spending time outdoors. She keeps herself hopping by reading, writing, and traveling. When she sits still, she enjoys her home in Marietta, GA.
Frye Gaillard was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, coming of age during the civil rights movement in the South. Those historic events compelled a lifelong reckoning with the issue of race and its effects on the life of our country. Along the way, he became fascinated by the heroes of that struggle, not only the icons like John Lewis, Rosa Parks, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but by the thousands of lesser-known people who committed their lives to the cause of justice. His award-winning works include Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement That Changed America, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award; A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, chosen by NPR as one of the best books of 2018, and the historical novel for young readers, Go South to Freedom, a Jefferson Cup Honor Book. With Marti Rosner, he is co-author of two other children’s books, The Slave Who Went to Congress and Ezra Wants to Know: The True Story of the Rosenwald Schools.
Tim Houston, a native of Acworth, is married to Janice. They have one son, two daughters and six grandchildren, whom they adore. Tim retired from Cobb EMC in Marietta, GA after 25 years of service. He currently serves on the Electric Cities of Georgia (ECG) Board of Directors as Chairman and serves as a member on the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) Power Board. Tim is an avid supporter of the Acworth Football and Baseball Association and is a committed supporter of the Expanded Horizon and Achiever Program. Tim is an ordained Baptist Minister and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Ministry. He is an alumnus of North Cobb High School and a graduate of North Metro Technical College. Tim was elected to the Acworth Board of Aldermen in 2004 and is currently serving his fourth term.
The lighting ceremony was held on December 17, 2021. Cobb Landmarks was honored to have Destiny’s Daughters of Promise in attendance. Through this partnership, students were able to attend the lighting ceremony, meet with the sculptors, tour the museum, and visit with our Food Historian and Living History Interpreter Clarissa Clifton.
Cobb Landmarks is honored to receive this gift from Lights Over Atlanta. The sculpture represents the work of students, poets, artists, and historians who came together for a common purpose - to shine a light on the 1,200 enslaved individuals whose names were not recorded and are now lost to time. We thank Lights Over Atlanta for shining a light on this important piece of public art.
MARIETTA, GA, June 16, 2021 - Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society dedicated a new sculpture at the William Root House on June 12, 2021. The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta. Born in Philadelphia in 1815, William moved to Marietta in August 1839 to open a drug/mercantile store on the Marietta Square. During the 1990s, the Root House was meticulously restored to its original appearance and is now operated by Cobb Landmarks as a historic house museum.
Situated on the Root House property is the circa 1830s Manning Family Cabin. Cobb Landmarks uses the cabin to help tell the stories of the enslaved individuals who labored at the Root House property and who would have lived in a similar cabin. The 1860 census shows that Marietta had 297 households and a population of approximately 2,600. Of the 297 households, 137 (46%) held slaves. According to the 1860 slave schedule (census), Marietta's slave population in 1860 was roughly 1,200, meaning that almost 45% of Marietta’s total population was enslaved at that time.
To honor and remember the the more than 1,200 enslaved people living in Marietta prior to the end of the Civil War, Cobb Landmarks partnered with Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) School of Art and Design to create a new garden sculpture. For the sculpture, KSU students used state-of-the-art scanning technology to 3D scan living history interpreter Misha Harp. This scan was used to print a maquette of the sculpture using a 3D printer, which helped inform sculptors as they crafted the full-size sculpture. The unveiling, which attracted a large crowd, included remarks by Executive Director Trevor Beemon, Living History Interpreter Misha Harp, Master Craftsman Page Burch, and a poetry reading by Sprayberry High School student Courtney Brown.
ABOUT THE WILLIAM ROOT HOUSE: Owned and operated by Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society, the William Root House is one of the oldest homes remaining in the Atlanta area. Interactive touchscreens and comprehensive exhibits tell visitors about life in antebellum Georgia. Home to the Root family from 1845 to 1886, the house and property have been meticulously restored to their c. 1860 appearance.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society is seeking funds for a new project at the William Root House. The Root House was built circa 1845 for Hannah and William Root, early settlers of Marietta. Born in Philadelphia in 1815, William moved to Marietta in August 1839 to open a drug/mercantile store on the Marietta Square. During the 1990s, the Root House was meticulously restored to its original appearance and is now operated by Cobb Landmarks as a historic house museum.
A new garden project at the Root House is intended to transform the courtyard adjacent to the newly completed museum Visitor Center. “The Visitor Center is the first thing people see when they arrive at the museum. We want to make an impactful first impression, and also give the space purpose,” said Executive Director Trevor Beemon.
The courtyard is situated between the Root House and the circa 1830s Manning Family Cabin. Cobb Landmarks uses the cabin to help tell the stories of the enslaved individuals who labored at the Root House property and who would have lived in a similar cabin. The 1860 census shows that Marietta had 297 households and a population of approximately 2,600. Of the 297 households, 137 (46%) held slaves. According to the 1860 slave schedule (census), Marietta's slave population in 1860 was 1,175, meaning that almost 45% of Marietta’s total population was enslaved at that time.
To honor and remember the many enslaved people who lived in Marietta prior to the end of the Civil War whose names were not recorded and are now lost to time, Cobb Landmarks is partnering with Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) School of Art and Design to create a garden sculpture. For the sculpture, KSU students used state-of-the-art scanning technology to 3D scan living history interpreter Misha Harp. This scan was used to print a maquette of the sculpture using a 3D printer, which will help inform sculptors as they craft the full-size sculpture in the future. Other improvements to the courtyard include new plants, garden lights, and outdoor seating for museum guests.
Cobb Landmarks hopes to raise $10,000 for this project. Funds raised beyond that amount will be used to expand the scope of the project to include the addition of on-site interpretive signage and other site improvements. Readers are encouraged to visit RootHouseMuseum.com/Garden to donate.
Marietta’s Black community worked to establish the Lemon Street Elementary School in 1894. Marietta Industrial High School was completed in 1929 and was the city’s first Black high school. The school was later renamed Lemon Street High School. Ten years after the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education ruled that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional, Marietta High School still had no Black students. That changed in 1964 when a group of Marietta citizens sent a letter to Marietta Schools Superintendent Henry Kemp asking him to allow Daphne Delk and Treville Grady to enroll in classes at Marietta High School. The school board accepted the request and Delk and Grady became the first Black students to attend Marietta High School on August 27, 1964. Following integration, the Marietta Board of Education closed the Lemon Street High School and Lemon Street Grammar School. The c. 1930 Lemon Street High School building was demolished in 1967. The c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School building was used for storage by the Board of Education.
In 2019, Cobb Landmarks met with Marietta City Schools to discuss the uncertain future of the Lemon Street Grammar School building. Cobb Landmarks emphasized the importance of saving the historic structure. After a series of meetings, plans were made to return the Lemon Street Grammar School to its original use: educating Marietta’s students. Marietta City Schools worked to preserve the building’s exterior and key architectural features while rehabilitating the interior, creating a modern learning environment for students. A small exhibition inside the school tells the story of the once-segregated school system, while outdoor interpretive panels focus on the history of the surrounding community.
We sat down with Chuck Gardner, Chief Operations Officer at Marietta City Schools, to discuss the rehabilitation of the Lemon Street Grammar School building.
Why do you think it was important to reuse the building?
“The history of Lemon Street is much deeper than the 1951 structure that we saved. This campus dates back to the 1890s and is an incredible part of the Marietta City Schools story.”
Was there a particular moment during the renovation that stood out to you?
“The most powerful moments in the renovation have been walking alumni around and hearing them tell stories about their school experiences in the 1950s. One former student pointed out the corner where she would warm up her teacher’s lunch for her on the radiator. These stories can’t be forgotten.”
How were you able to preserve the historic integrity of the structure while still bringing it up to modern codes?
“Our approach to the construction project was to do the demolition/abatement months before design was complete. This allowed us to see the structure. During demolition we saved a lot of the old glazed block which is a non-standard size these days. The demolition was done by hand so as to not damage the block. We used the salvaged block for infill so that it would not look different. We were also able to design new windows with muntins to match the old ones.”
What part of the project are you most proud of?
“I’m proud of the fact that we have created beautiful modern spaces which are suitable for learning, while honoring the history in such a way that when alumni visit they still recognize their former school.”
Cobb Landmarks was proud to advocate for the rehabilitation of this important landmark. It's been a pleasure to see Marietta City Schools revive the building for classroom use.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society is celebrating Black History Month with a new Black History Walking Tour of downtown Marietta. The tour will take participants on a journey through time, from the founding of Marietta through the Civil Rights Movement. "While this walking tour presents a number of important Black heritage sites in Marietta, it's just a start. We hope people will be inspired to go learn more after the tour," said Executive Director Trevor Beemon. The walking tour is approximately 1.5 miles long and should take about one hour to complete.
The tour features many significant sites in Marietta, including Zion Baptist Church, one of the earliest Black congregations and churches in the state of Georgia. The tour also features the newly rehabilitated Lemon Street Grammar School, and includes stories about the desegregation of public schools in Marietta. "My hope is that tour-goers will walk away with a better understanding of the events, people, and places from Marietta’s past that formed the city we live in today," said Beemon.
To take the tour, visit cobblandmarks.com/blackhistory.
Last year Cobb Landmarks met with Marietta City Schools to discuss the uncertain future of the c. 1950 Lemon Street Grammar School. Cobb Landmarks expressed the importance of maintaining the historic structure. “The question was whether we could afford to save the building while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Grant Rivera, Superintendent of Marietta City Schools. “We are pleased to say that, after careful study, we will be able to do both.”
Parrish Construction Group successfully performed the demolition portion of the Lemon Street Project during December 2019. On June 16th the school board approved a renovation budget, allowing the renovation to begin. Plans call for replacing all doors and windows and installing new plumbing and electrical systems, fire sprinklers and alarm systems, security systems and the technology required for the school system to operate the building. Crews will also install new asphalt, sidewalk, fencing and landscaping. The building is expected to open to students by the end of 2020.