Now serving as a cultural museum, the building — originally named Cassville Colored School and later referred to as the Noble Hill School — provided instruction for black children in the first through seventh grades from 1923 to the mid-1950s.
“We plan to recognize the students, the alumni, that went to Noble Hill,” said Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center Curator Marian Coleman, who attended first through third grades at Noble Hill in the early 1950s. “This is a time when we call the alumni back to celebrate with us. We interview them and talk about the days when they were going to school, things that happened during the time they were here, some of their likes, dislikes, who were their friends or their teachers, subjects they liked, some of the pastimes, some of the things they did, recess time, what they brought to school for lunches — different things like that.
“... We’re trying to [collect] this information so we can have it at the school for the Noble Hill records because we do get young people that come back and ask about their grandparents or uncles and aunts that may have went to school here. ... [Those who] attended Noble Hill, they mostly talk about the friendships that they made, the closeness of them being together. A lot of them laugh about the different types of games that we played. ... And a lot of them would talk about the teachers and the strictness of the teachers and how when they look back on it they ... understand why the teachers were like they were. They really cared and they wanted us to progress.”
Known as the first Rosenwald School in northwest Georgia, Noble Hill cost $2,036.35 to construct. The Rosenwald Fund contributed $700, with the remainder raised by the Cassville community. Built in 1923, the school stayed in operation until the educational site was consolidated into Bartow Elementary School in 1955.
After sitting vacant for more than 25 years, the building at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville was transformed into its present state with the help of state grants, private donations and fundraisers. Now referred to as Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, the venue serves as a cultural museum that reveals what life and education was like for black residents during the early to mid-1900s.
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.
“... Noble Hill was the first Rosenwald School to be built in northwest Georgia and the only Black school in the Bartow County School System built to standard specifications. A second Rosenwald School was constructed for Black students in the Cartersville system and located at Summer Hill. After all of the county’s elementary schools consolidated in 1955, Noble Hill was abandoned and subsequently sold to Mr. and Mrs. Bethel Wheeler. Restoration of the building began in 1983 after Mrs. Wheeler donated the school to the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center trustees in memory of her husband, Bethel, and father-in-law, Webster H. Wheeler, the contractor/carpenter who was assisted by Danny Harris and Thomas Grier in the construction of Noble Hill.”
Along with serving as a reunion for the former school’s alumni, Monday’s event also will feature games and various food dishes, including fish, fried chicken, barbecue chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, desserts and lemonade.
Even though the Labor Day Picnic/Homecoming Celebration requires no admission, Noble Hill alumni and members of the general public are encouraged to place donations. The contributions will go toward building improvements and the organization’s Unsung Heroes Banquet in November.
For more information about Noble Hill and its upcoming picnic, call the museum at 770-382-3392.