SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) — Joann Stevens in on a mission is to turn Greene County’s historical black high school into an African-American museum.
Earlier this year, 9OYS shared the story of the Rosenwald Snow Hill Colored High School as a part of our Hidden History series.
“My aunt was one of the first to graduate from this school,” said Stevens. “She graduated from this school in 1929.”
She’s reached out to the county and the town numerous times with little to no help, but she’s not backing down.
“It was the first school that was built for African-Americans that afforded them an opportunity to go to high school,” Stevens said.
But nearly 100 years later, it is sitting abandoned, garnering cob webs
“None of this is secure, and the boards are rotting away,” Stevens said.
Stevens says through her non-profit, the Rosenwald Center for Cultural Enrichment, she hopes to restore it and turn it into an African-American museum.
“We are currently in the process of establishing a historic district, the first culture historic district in our rural area, surrounding the historic Rosenwald School,” said Stevens.
Currently, the school is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Lenoir Community College holds the deed.
Stevens feels it is her’s as well as the county’s and the town’s responsibility to bring it back to its original condition and put it to use.
“This is a great opportunity to bring all people together and talk about the history — the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Stevens.
Stevens estimates it may be a pricey project, coming in at around $1 million, but said the loss of history and memories of former students is a bigger cost.
“They’ve not been able to tell their stories,” said Stevens. “I want to be able to tell them, and I want to be able to tell it from a loving and a positive perspective.”
There are other organizations who are fighting to preserve the building as well.
The town manager said because the building is not going against any ordinances, and they don’t own it, they have no power over what happens to the building.
9OYS reached out to Lenoir Community College but has not yet heard back.