Sears & Roebuck Co. founder Julius Rosenwald and Tuskegee University founder Dr. Booker T. Washington joined forces in the early part of the 20th century to improve the education available to African-American children.
Their efforts can still be seen in Orangeburg County today at the Great Branch Teacherage, which housed teachers who taught at the local Rosenwald School.
“During a time when education was not a priority of state funding for African-American children, the Great Branch School and its teacherage were unusual and landmarks in the community,” Rose Kennerly-Dance wrote in a form nominating the teacherage for the National Register of Historic Places nomination form.
The Great Branch Teacherage is located about 10 miles from Orangeburg, at 2890 Neeses Highway.
The three-bedroom cottage, built around 1924 and 1925, served as a home to teachers at the Great Branch Rosenwald School, which once stood on the campus there.
The school was built around 1918 and fell victim to arsonists in the early 1960s. It was one of the first Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina.
Today, visitors to the teacherage can see the rooms of the house as they may have looked when it functioned as a home for educators at the Great Branch School, which stood just a few yards away.
The Rosenwald Schools and teacherages were funded by Rosenwald and through community support, chiefly money raised by African-American residents.
Washington and his students designed school models that were sturdy and affordable.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Of the 5,357 schools, shops and teacher homes constructed between 1917 and 1932, only 10–12 percent are estimated to survive today.”
School groups, church groups, individuals and those passing through the area are all welcome to visit this historic property.
The Great Branch Rosenwald Teacherage is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except holidays and by appointment by calling 803-533-1828.