City of Charlotte gift goes to historic schoolhouse move — $50,000 gift for Siloam School transit

The city of Charlotte is giving $50,000 toward relocating the Siloam School.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission began exploring methods of preservation in 2016, a decade after Charlotte City Council deemed the building a historic landmark.

“Projects like Save Siloam School are important investments for our city to make,” Mayor Vi Lyles said. “Preserving our historic buildings contributes to Charlotte’s character and culture and helps drive economic growth through history tourism.”

In 2016, the landmarks commission estimated it would cost $50,000 to relocate the structure located in the University City area, and $150,000 to restore it. The Charlotte Museum of History took the point on the project in 2017 to give the schoolhouse a new home on its property. They intended to raise $600,000 under former museum president Kay Peninger ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the Rosenwald Foundation. While the schoolhouse was not built with Rosewald funds, it was constructed in a similar style and served the same purpose. Rosenwald Schools emerged in response to segregation in the early part of the 20th century, as a means of educating African American children.

“The story of the Siloam School gives us a window into the lives of Charlotte’s African-American families in the early 20th century,” said Charlotte City Council member Greg Phipps, who represents District 4, which includes the schoolhouse’s current location. “By preserving this historic structure, we allow future generations to connect with that history.”

Peninger has since been succeeded as museum president by Adria Focht, but the goal to restore the Siloam building for public use remains the same. It would be included in museum tours, where they also intend to have conversations surrounding race.

“The Siloam School provided educational opportunity that was denied to black children in the South,” Focht said. “It represents an important moment in the history of our nation and of the African-American community.”

Restoration includes bringing the building up to 21st century standards. Fundraising efforts would be allocated for future maintenance of the schoolhouse. A historic marker will be placed on Mallard Highlands Drive, its original location.

Siloam School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and considered endangered based on its current state.

“Adaptive reuse of our city’s wonderful historic buildings helps Charlotte tell our collective story,” said District 1 council member Larken Egleston. “This relatively small investment in preservation will yield benefits for years to come as the Siloam School becomes a place for the community to learn and connect.”

For more information, or to contribute to the project: gofundme/savesiloamschool

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(The Charlotte Post, 2/5/19)