The first National Register of Historic Places nomination produced by the Public History program has just been officially listed. During the spring 2011 semester, public history certificate student Annelise Gray began studying Jefferson Jacob School, a Rosenwald school building in Propsect, Kentucky. Annelise’s work grew out of History 621, Introduction to Historic Preservation. She prepared the major components of a National Register nomination for the class and continued working on the project in the following months. She subsequently submitted the nomination to the Kentucky Heritage Council. Just this week, Annelise received word that the property was officially listed on August 6. Congratulations, Annelise! This is a major accomplishment for her, and a great step for the public history program.
Jefferson Jacob School is a Rosenwald School building in Prospect, Kentucky. Rosenwald schools were built across the South during the era of segregation. Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck and Company, established the Julius Rosendwald Foundation in 1917. One of the causes he supported was schooling for African Americans in the South. The Rosenwald Fund provided funds for construction; local communities donated land and labor and matched the Fund’s contributions. Ultimately, the program built more than 5,000 schools in fifteen states.
In recent years, Rosenwald schools have become a focus of preservation efforts across the South. As these buildings have suffered from neglect and vandalism, communities have responded by raising funds and finding new uses. The Jefferson Jacob School has been little-used for some time. With its new status as a National Register-listed property, we hope that it will receive the attention it deserves.
On March 2, Preservation Kentucky hosted its first annual graduate student symposium. Held in conjunction with the University of Kentucky Historic Preservation Program’s annual conference, the symposium brought students from several Kentucky institutions together to discuss current issues in historic preservation. The U of L was well represented by Annelise Gray, a student in the public history certificate program. Annelise gave a great talk about the Jefferson Jacob School in Prospect, Kentucky. She began her work while enrolled in History 610, Introduction to Historic Preservation. She is now putting the final touches on a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Annelise’s research has uncovered the history of segregated education in northeastern Jefferson County. The Jefferson Jacob School was built expressly for African American students during Jim Crow. Annelise is to be commended for her dogged research skills and commitment to finishing a large and elaborate project. Way to go Annelise!
Students from the University of Kentucky, Northern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University also participated in the symposium. Kathy Martinolich, a student in the UK Historic Preservation Program, discussed her thesis research. Martinolich is interested in series-designed-and-built buildings from the recent past. Using gas stations as an example, she explored the challenges commonly encountered in evaluating and nominating such properties to the National Register. Matthew Yagle of Northern Kentucky University followed with a short synopsis of his research on the Lincoln-Grant School, a African American high school in Covington. And, last but definitely not least, Sarah McCartt-Jackson of Western Kentucky University discussed efforts to expand the range of properties eligible for nomination to the National Register as Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs). Each of these presentations inspired good discussion. Collectively, they showed the kind of cutting-edge work taking place at Kentucky universities.
Overall, the graduate symposium suggested the health of historic preservation training in Kentucky. It was great to see professionals-in-the-making come together to talk about their work and share ideas with one another. Attendance suffered because of inclement weather (the tornadoes that devastated several communities in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky hit later in the afternoon), but those who stayed asked good questions and had useful comments to offer. I’m already looking forward to next year’s symposium. Having regular forums of this kind promises to improve the quality of preservation training at institutions across the state.
– Daniel Vivian