Archived Story

COLUMN: Hartselle’s heritage

Published 12:04pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One thing I enjoy learning about is the history of people, places and things.

This week, I had the opportunity to learn more about the early days of Hartselle, as I was writing the story about the former Morgan County Training School. One of the most amazing facts is that it was a school originally built by the Rosenwald Schools Initiative, a program that built schools for many African Americans living in rural areas.

The initiative started with Booker T. Washington pitching the idea to Julius Rosenwald. Over a 20-year period, more than 5,000 educational institutions were built, including the former training school on Bethel Street.

I wish that the old school building could have been preserved, but a fire destroyed the original school a long time ago. In fact, the school had a fire two other times before it closed in the late 1960s, when integration was implemented.

The final school building was demolished many years ago after it had fallen into disrepair. Parts of the school still remain. The Hartselle Head Start still uses a couple of the buildings today, but the majority of the school buildings are gone.

While the school isn’t there any more, its legacy won’t be forgotten, as a historical marker will be installed at the site of the school later this year.

A committee including three local students is writing the text that will go on the memorial.

Thank you to all of the people involved in this project, including the Hartselle Historical Society.

Without their hard work, this piece of history might have been long forgotten.

Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.

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