Continuing to serve up “food, fellowship and fun,” Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center’s annual homecoming celebration will be presented Monday. Known as the first Rosenwald School in northwest Georgia, Noble Hill now operates as a museum, highlighting black culture in Bartow from the late 19th century to the present.
“The Labor Day Homecoming Celebration was held in 1989 to bring Bartow County community and alumni that attended the Noble Hill School together to hear stories and experience the atmosphere of what school life was about in the early 1900s to the mid-1950s,” said Valerie Coleman, curator of the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center. “The Labor Day Homecoming Celebration also serves as a fundraiser to raise funds for the annual Unsung Heroes Banquet.
“At the Labor Homecoming Celebration, we serve the Bartow County community with food, fellowship and fun. We have indoor and outdoor games, a cake walk and fellowship with alumni, family and friends. I wanted to continue with the tradition of the Bartow County community and alumni coming together on Labor Day to share oral history and get to know each other no matter race, religion or gender. Working together and networking as a community is a very beautiful thing to me. Many residents in Bartow County do not know that Noble Hill exists, so this event serves as a way to learn more about their community.”
Originally named Cassville Colored School and later referred to as the Noble Hill School, the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center’s building provided instruction for black children in the first through seventh grades from 1923 to the mid-1950s.
According to Noble Hill’s information panels, “Noble Hill School, officially named the Cassville Colored School, was built in 1923 and is unique in the history of black education in Bartow County. Constructed to replace the condemned one-room Cassville School that served black children from the 1880s until 1921, Noble Hill School was built with substantial support from the Rosenwald Fund as well as from local black citizens.
"The Rosenwald Fund, established in 1914 by Sears, Roebuck and Company President Julius Rosenwald, was one of the most influential philanthropic efforts in the advancement of common schools for rural black children in the South. Between 1914 and 1932, the Rosenwald Fund contributed $28 million toward construction of 4,977 black schools in 15 states; 242 were built in Georgia.”
After sitting vacant for more than 25 years, the building at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway was restored with the assistance of private donations, state grants and fundraisers. Dr. Susie Wheeler, who attended the former elementary school in the 1920s, spearheaded the community-wide fundraising project in the mid-1980s.
“We encourage the public to attend the event to experience the oral history of what it was like to be a student of the first Rosenwald School in northwest Georgia for black children in the early to mid-1900s,” Coleman said. “I hope that the public [learns] how important of a role that Rosenwald Schools played in educating black children in the South.
“We also want to gain their support with our land expansion project and the vision that Dr. Susie Wheeler and The Honorable Justice Robert Benham desire to continue, which includes a garden, library, craft shop and an old country [store] to name a few things and more,” she said, referring to Noble Hill looking to establish a historical village within the next 15 years.
As Coleman noted, the Labor Day Homecoming Celebration from noon to 4 p.m. will feature various activities and food, such as fish, barbecue and fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, hot dogs, pies, homemade cakes, ice cream, tea, lemonade and soda. While the event is complimentary, $10 donations will be accepted.
For more information about the center, call 770-382-3392 or visit www.noblehillwheeler.org.