Museum History

The Elmore County Training School, built in 1924, was one of nine (9) schools built in Elmore County through the Rosenwald program. This building (the only brick structure built in the county), along with the teachers’ home (built during the construction of the school building), are the only structures still standing in Elmore County.

A Rosenwald School

In 1911, Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears, Roebuck and Co., met Booker T. Washington, the nation’s foremost Black educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute. During his Rosenwald’s  visit to Tuskegee Institute he was impressed in the contrast between the “decadent” rural surroundings and the energy and achievement he saw at the Institute.  In 1912 Rosenwald accepted an invitation to become a trustee of Tuskegee Institute.

Rosenwald channeled large sums of money into what would become known as the Rosenwald School Building Fund Program.  Rosenwald set up a school building fund company that granted matching monies to build modern, up-to-date school buildings for rural Black children.  The building program was intended to provide facilities to educate Black children.  Between 1912 and 1932, 389 schools, teachers’ homes and training facilities were built in Alabama.

In 1986 former Mayor Jeanette Barrett (deceased) proposed the idea of using the building as a museum to prevent it from being demolished.  Mayor Barrett, assisted by Mrs. Hertisene Crenshaw located funds to renovate the facility.  The ladies recruited volunteers from churches and community organizations to explore the idea and implementation of a Black History Museum.

Former retired Elmore County extension agent Roscoe A. lee (deceased) was elected temporary chairman to oversee plans for the facility which included having a museum open house by the end of 1986.

In order to meet the goal of an open house, the State Department of Archives  loaned display cases to house temporary exhibits.  The display cases and exhibits later became a permanent part of the museum.

Mrs. Eloyse Jones, a 1932 graduate of the Training School and later a teacher at the school for 28 years, coordinated arrangements for open house and served as official hostess for the annual Christmas on the Coosa Museum Open House until 1996.  She and the other museum volunteers honored the request of the mayor with the museum officially opening in December 1986, during the Christmas on the Coosa celebration.

© 2015 Elmore County Black History Museum. All rights reserved.