BHM: The Germantown School
BERLIN, Md. – In Worcester County, over ten schools were built as part of a nationwide effort to give African Americans a good education right in the heart of their own communities.
But, only one is still standing in Berlin: The Germantown School. Located on Trappe Road, the school was funded with a $700 grant from CEO Julius Rosenwald, along with contributions from residents, according to local historian Gregory Purnell.
In the early part of the 20th century, many Blacks were living under the oppressive Jim Crow laws and weren’t being given a fair shake, especially in the south. So, Julius Rosenwald teamed up with Booker T. Washington to fill that gap in the Black community. Rosenwald was CEO of Sears and Roebuck, which was the Amazon of its day. The business magnate set up a fund to open schools and support Black artists, writers, and great thinkers of the time.
When the Germantown School opened its doors in 1923, about 100 kids came to learn. For 32 years, the school educated hundreds of students, but shuttered its doors in the 1950s. After being unused for years, the building was old for just $10 to the county and used as a warehouse. But, in 2002, the community campaigned to reopen and restore it.
Today it is used as a community center and meeting place, now known as the Germantown School Community Heritage Center, and is an official 501-c-3 organization.