Tennessee Preservation Trust

Durham’s Chapel Rosenwald School:

Construction began on the Durham’s Chapel Rosenwald School shortly after the Cairo Rosenwald School in 1922. Originally, seven Rosenwald Schools were built in Sumner County, this one and Cairo being two of the three still extant. Durham’s Chapel is different from Cairo in that it is a standard Rosenwald Fund two-teacher school design. The school originally sat on 2 acres and was built for $3750. The Rosenwald Fund funded $700, while the Tennessee public school fund gave $1,525 and the African American Community raised $1,525. The school closed in the 1960s due to low enrollment but remained in use as a community center for many years. Ownership of the building was transferred to Durham’s Chapel Community Club.

Durham’s Chapel Rosenwald School was nominated by MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation to the National Register in 2006, who followed up with a Historic Structures Report in 2008. In 2010, TPT was awarded another grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Lowe’s and partnered with MTSU Center for Historic Preservation once again to rehabilitate this building, which was in desperate need of repair.

Paul Hoffman, who was the project manager for the Cairo project, returned to supervise the Durham’s Chapel project. He and others worked tirelessly resetting the limestone foundation and applying new mortar; upgrading electrical wiring and fixtures; installing new beveled lap siding; installing gutters and flashings to the chimney and awnings; laying a new concrete walkway; grading for water runoff; rebuilding, glazing, and installing window sashes; and painting the exterior.

On March 3, 2012 TPT Board Members and the Durham’s Chapel Community Club, along with other members of the Community, gathered together to celebrate the opening of the school. Members of the community look forward to their school serving again as a gathering place for club meetings, dinners, weddings, and other social events.

Many local individuals and organizations joined TPT to support the Durhams Chapel School Restoration Project just like they did for Cairos. Past TPT board member Reggie Mudd was again directly involved with the planning and organization. The project was made possible only through Reggie and John Garrott’s generous donations. The Sumner County Sherriff’s department was instrumental in the process as well and we thank them for painting the exterior of the school.

TPT was awarded THC's 2012 Certificate of Merit for its work rehabilitating the Durham's Chapel Rosenwald School.

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