Historic Siloam School soon to open its doors to public

CHARLOTTE — The story of the Siloam School is one Channel 9 has followed for years.

It’s now safely on the grounds of the Charlotte Museum of History and is close to opening its doors to the public.

The Siloam School is one of the remaining Rosenwald schools built in the early 20th century across the segregated rural south to educate Black children. The schools were led by plans and support from Dr. Booker T. Washington and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.

Dr. Rochlle Brandon said that the community poured its hearts, souls, and dollars into making it happen.

“This is a story of a community willing to sacrifice in order to get their children’s education. So those of us in future generations do so well, have done so well, because that Rosenwald school was there to educate our ancestors.”

Brandon’s grandmother and her 10 siblings were educated in a Rosenwald school, which is an education that her grandmother was deeply proud.

“My generation, I mean, my gosh, we got architects, professors, biological engineers. That type of thing. So that investment that Mr. Rosenwald did that work of the community of the church to get the funds, the state doing their part as far as paying teachers, recruiting the teachers, and doing that, helped raise us out of poverty … and so this is how we go from slavery and not having education and not having those resources to get into the next level.”

Brandon’s family and community history is what drove her to help save the Siloam School in Charlotte, which was once at risk of being torn down.

Her grandmother worked to try and save the Rosenwald school she went to when it faced a similar fate. So, when Brandon learned of the Siloam School, she wanted to do the same.

“When I heard about the Siloam School in Charlotte, I was like, Oh my gosh. I’ve got to stand up for what my grandmother believed in because we should not be losing this history,” Brandon said.

The school sat in the shadow of new apartments in the Mallard Creek area withering away.

The Siloam School now sits on the Charlotte Museum of History property almost fully restored and ready for the public to learn from and explore.

“We wanted it to be used as a way of helping people to understand our past, and how it reflects on our future,” Brandon said.

Fannie Flono chaired a committee, which helped the school’s restoration.

“How educational inequities can linger and be a part of our present. How the Rosenwald process is a very good example of how these two men who were from very different circumstances are able to come together and do something for the public good,” Flono said.

It was a long process to the get the school to the museum and get enough funding and support to save it.

‘Every single day I have worried that this building would be destroyed by the elements by you know, vandals, any number of things,” Flono said.

But like the families who persevered, the school stands today.

“It’s the perseverance that these people who were not too long out of enslavement, who were able to kind of join forces in their own communities to try to provide an education for their kids,” said Flono.

As they work to prepare the school for opening in June, Flono encourages anyone in the community with knowledge of the school or family who went there to come forward and share.