Rosenwald Hall, a rectangular red-brick building with white clapboard sections, served the community of Lima, Oklahoma, from 1921 to 1966. Duringperiod it was Lima’s only elementary school. Lima, one of twenty-nine all-Black towns founded in Oklahoma before statehood (twenty-five in the Indian Territory and four in the Oklahoma Territory), is one of only three such towns in existence. The towns attracted a population consisting of migrants from other regions as well as former slaves of the Indians. During the first half of the twentieth century, educational opportunities for African American schoolchildren were stifled by racism, a shortage of money, and inadequate facilities. Beginning in the mid-teens, however, black schools throughout the south received much needed financial assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund.
Rosenwald Hall has a place in history as a facility constructed with funds from the Julius Rosenwald Fundation
Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), businessman and philanthropist, was president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company from 1910 to 1925 and became chairman of the board in 1925. He established the Julius Rosenwald fund in 1917. Influenced by the renowned African American educator Booker T. Washington, Rosenwald contributed through his fund part of the construction costs for more than 4,000 schools for Black children in 15 southern states.
The Rosenwald Fund’s initial activity was to aid in the construction of new buildings for black schools. Although the fund did not supply all the money necessary for the erection of new buildings, it did provide sufficient money to act as an impetus for the local district to better their facilities. In Oklahoma the Rosenwald Fund aided in the construction of 198 education-related buildings in forty-four counties between 1920 and 1932. Of the 198 buildings, 176 were schoolhouses, ranging in size from one-teacher to twenty-two-teacher, 16 were teacherages, and 6 were shops.
The Rosenwald school building program ended in Oklahoma and nationally in 1932. Of the Rosenwald Schools constructed in all-Black towns in Oklahoma, this is the only one remaining. Rosenwald Hall, a building that has retained much of its original character, closed as a school in 1966 but remained in use as a day care center from 1970 to 1985 and as a town hall since 1985.”
Source: Black heritage sites: an American odyssey and finder’s guide by Nancy C. Curtis.
and Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History