Part of Bemis Tn History

Built in 1916, the Bemis School is likely one of the oldest remaining Rosenwald schools in Tennessee. Although schools were built using Rosenwald school funds in the state starting in 1914, no schools from 1914 or 1915 remain extant. The Bemis school was built while the program was housed at Tuskegee Institute. Much like the model housing A. F. Bemis strove to build in Bemis, Washington’s vision for the school building program was to create model school buildings for rural communities. Progressive reformers believed that the school environment was crucial to student learning. Rosenwald school designs included strategic positioning of windows to create enough light, air circulation, and heat to create the proper interior environment for students. Even schools designed for one teacher were not merely single-room structures. Their designs included cloak-rooms, secondary classroom space, libraries, and other amenities: “Their strategy was to construct small, yet well-designed and better equipped rural schools. These unadorned structures augmented the work already being done in southern black education by uniting the interests of educational reformers, sympathetic state and local officials, and African American school patrons*

* Mary S. Hoffschwelle, The Rosenwald Schools of the American South Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006, 

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