The Woodville School stands today as a monument to the spirit of community and racial unity. Over 100 years ago Julius Rosenwald, the son of middle-class Jewish immigrants who was a self-made millionaire and Booker T. Washington, who was born into slavery and the founder of Tuskegee University, formed a union dedicated to providing better educational opportunities to African American youth in post-Civil War Southern states. Washington provided the educational concept and school building design and Rosenwald provided funding assistance through the Rosenwald Fund.
To receive funding for building a school in the 13 Southern states and 2 border states, applicants to the Rosenwald Fund had to demonstrate cooperation among the black community, the white community and the governing bodies of the community. Between 1912 and 1932 the Rosenwald Fund assisted in building over 5,300 structures dedicated to the education of African Americans.
In 1923, Woodville School was built at a cost of $3,500. The black community contributed $2,500, the white community $300 and the Rosenwald fund $700. Of the 7 Rosenwald structures erected in Gloucester, between 1920 and 1924, the Woodville School is the only one remaining. The School and property are now assessed at over $200,000. Recently, these same groups came together in Gloucester County to preserve the Woodville School. In 2013, black and white citizens of Gloucester formed a nonprofit Foundation with the goal of saving this historic monument. In 2019, the Gloucester Economic Development Authority (EDA), a County agency and owner of the property, offered to sell Woodville School to the Foundation at a price well below the assessed value. Through generous contributions from both the black and white communities the Foundation was able to purchase the School. The School and grounds are being rehabilitated and repurposed as a community asset. Although the model of unity and solidarity that was so successful 100 years ago is being severely tested today, the Woodville School will stand as a symbol to all: a monument to how the government and diverse racial communities can come together in a spirit of unity for the common good.
Wes Wilson, Executive Director of the Woodville/Rosenwald School Foundation, and Members of the Foundation Board
We are a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit foundation. All donations are tax-deductible.