Rosenwald school assembly hall is refreshed and rededicated
by Steven Johnson, Staff Writer
An update on a recent story from the pages of CL: February 2021
“Pee Wee” was in his element. In this case, “Pee Wee” was Lorenzo Megginson, a retired masonry specialist, and his element was the assembly hall at the Campbell County Training Center Complex in Rustburg, Va.
Built more than 90 years ago, the 5,000-square-foot hall has a stunning new life, thanks to dozens of contractors, vendors, donors and just plain folks like Megginson, a volunteer project manager, who painstakingly reassembled a structure first constructed for the education of Black students in segregated Virginia.
“We called on a lot of friends to do this project and they responded,” Megginson told representatives of the restoration effort, local officials and former training center students at a June 25 ceremonial dedication.
Known as the School on the Hill, the training center overhaul represents one of the most ambitious attempts in the country to preserve the legacy of the Rosenwald schools, built in the 1920s and 1930s. Booker T. Washington and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald led the drive to provide some 5,300 schools for Black students and the Black community, but most have since been destroyed or fallen by the wayside.
Cooperative Living profiled the Campbell County initiative in 2021 when Megginson and others were staring at a pile of beams. It can be found at co-opliving.com/campbell-training-school.
The assembly hall is one of four structures under renovation, and a Virginia budget amendment of $327,800 announced at the event from the office of Del. Matthew Fariss of Rustburg will help with future plans.
“It took all of the efforts of everyone in this community to make this happen,” says Millicent Nash, chair of the restoration project board of directors and a former student at the school.
Speaker after speaker emphasized that the assembly hall now belongs to the community, not a specific group, as the grounds and other buildings are planned hosts for a business incubator, a day care center, a picnic shelter, a museum and classroom space.
“I had no idea of the profound history of this place,” says Campbell County Administrator Frank Rogers. “I’m excited to see what began as a community endeavor remain a community endeavor.”
For more information, visit campbellcountytrainingschoolcomplex.org.