The Smithfield Schoolhouse was built in 1932 as an addition to an original, historic Rosenwald school. The earlier Rosenwald school, built around 1924 and called the Christian Home School, was originally constructed on two acres of land in the Chuckatuck area, located in the eastern part of Isle of Wight County. In the 1920s, Julius Rosenwald, a former Sears, Roebuck and Co. president, contributed several million dollars to build more than 5,000 schools across the South for black students, with local communities matching these funds to build the schools.
For the Christian Home School addition, community members raised money of their own and petitioned the county for additional money to expand the school. This addition has all of the architectural features of the original Rosenwald buildings although it was not built directly with Rosenwald funds. The original part of the building had deteriorated to the point that it could not be saved or repaired.
Over 150 oral interviews have been conducted with community members to preserve the history of this school. This building stands as a reminder of a community that demanded and achieved greater educational opportunities for its children.
The Schoolhouse Museum is located on Main Street in historic downtown Smithfield.
Geographical and Contact Information
516 Main Street
P.O. Box 1113