More Trust Grants for Historic Schools

Mendenhall Elementary School

A few weeks ago (“Grants for Rosenwald Schools“), I passed on a post from the National Trust announcing the opening of a new round of grants for Rosenwald schools, in partnership with the Lowe’s Foundation. Last week, the Trust announced another grant resulting from this partnership, this one applying to all historic schools, not just Rosenwalds:

The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) preservation fund represents a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.  Lowe’s desires to support the preservation of significant public properties in the communities it serves.  To this end, the LCEF has provided funding to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a national nonprofit organization that works to preserve historic sites and revitalize communities across America.  The National Trust, through the LCEF preservation fund grant program, will use the funds to support historic preservation projects.

In 2010, a new pilot program will focus on historic school buildings that are being stabilized or restored, and that upon completion will be open to the public and serve the community.  Grants are intended to further the restoration or rehabilitation of these buildings by providing funding for construction expenses.  The maximum grant amount will be $50,000.

Grant applications must be postmarked by April 30, 2010.

Looking on the grant application itself, we find the following details about eligibility:

  • The project must involve the rehabilitation or restoration of a historic school building.
  • Once the building is restored, it must be open to the public and serve the community. This could mean continued use as a school or adaptive use for other community based programming.
  • Eligible applicants are limited to 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, school boards/districts, and government agencies. Applicants that have received previous National Trust financial assistance are eligible provided all grant requirements are current.
  • Religious organizations are not eligible to apply.
  • Some examples of eligible grant-funded activities include roof repair, window restoration, fire prevention, and building stabilization.

older c.1950 building at Abbeville School

This represents an exciting broadening of the grant program, and I know of several schools around the state in a position to apply right now: we mentioned the efforts of a community group to stabilize and repair the old Abbeville Colored School in a News Roundup a while back (in fact, I think that was my last news roundup before W. White took that on, for which I am still thankful, W.). Don’t forget Eaton School in Hattiesburg, of course, presuming it has a roof by now . . . Let’s see, what other schools have we seen round these parts recently? Mendenhall Elementary, presuming they haven’t torn it down yet; the old Hattiesburg High School, the old Vaiden High School, the old Clay Co. Agricultural High School, and Carthage School–the list could go on and on, of course.

Those of you who have been around a while know that I’m sometimes pretty frank about disagreements I have with how the Trust approaches certain issues, but on the issue of historic schools, and especially Rosenwald schools, they have taken the lead nationally, starting at least with the 2000 publication of “Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School.” That publication really summarized and analyzed how all the new standards for space in and around schools were making historic school buildings obsolete–even those that had been well-maintained over the years–because they didn’t have enough acreage surrounding them or large enough classrooms to meet the new standards. I highly recommend this booklet to anyone who wants to get a broad understanding of the issues behind the abandonment of historic schools, often landmarks and anchors of their communities.

While we’re on the subject of the National Trust, if you’d like to help them get a $200,000 grant from Federal Express, go over to their website and vote in a contest that pits the Trust against other arts and cultural organizations to see who can get the most votes.

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Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Grants, Historic Preservation, National Trust, Schools

1 reply

  1. It’s nice to know that there is at least one Preservation grant program that’s expanding right now since Saving America’s Treasures and Preserve America are both threatened.


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