The historic Eleanor Roosevelt School building in Warm Springs. (Photo by Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.)

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is planning a Sept. 7 ceremonial kickoff for the preservation of a Warm Springs school built for African American children with the backing of President Franklin Roosevelt.

The Eleanor Roosevelt School at 350 Parham St. was built in 1936 as the last school backed by the Rosenwald Fund, a grant program that created schools for African American children in the rural South in that time of racist segregation. According to the Georgia Trust, it was the last school built with the program’s funds. Warm Springs famously was the site of the president’s vacation home, which is now the Little White House museum. The school was named for the First Lady and the president spoke at its dedication in 1937. The school closed in 1972 during integration.

The Georgia Trust bought the school in 2019 through its Revolving Fund and sold it to private owners DeBron and Voncher Walker. Participants in Revolving Fund purchases agree to preserve the property they bought.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Trust received $694,522 to preserve the school from the National Park Service (NPS) Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program. The funds will be used to secure the site and “provide exterior stabilization,” including a new roof and restoration of windows, doors and masonry. The grant also funds “comprehensive architectural drawings” that will be the basis of an interior preservation plan.

The NPS this year awarded roughly $21 million to many projects around the country through the Civil Rights program. The Roosevelt School was among six Georgia projects that received grants, among them the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn

The Sept. 7 kickoff event at the school is free and will run from 1 to 3 p.m. and include a tour. Attendees will include one of Roosevelt’s great-grandsons, Little White House representatives, and school alumni. To RSVP and for more information, see the Georgia Trust website.

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