Sep 8, 2023 - News

Historic Charlotte school that educated Black children has been relocated and will soon be restored

Siloam School makes its final turn into Charlotte Museum of History campus.

Photo: Grant Baldwin/courtesy of the Charlotte Museum of History

The historic Siloam School has finally been moved to the Charlotte Museum of History’s property after a six-year campaign to relocate and restore the building.

Driving the news: The school was transported from University City to the museum early Friday morning.

Why it matters: Siloam School will further deteriorate without restoration.

Context: The segregation-era school was built in the 1920s to educate Black children in what is today known as University City. It was constructed in the Rosenwald School style, which describes schools built throughout the South in the early 1900s to educate Black children.

By the numbers: The museum, which is leading the Save the Siloam School Project, raised $1.2 million to restore and maintain the building, with donations from individuals and organizations, plus the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County.

  • The Gambrell Foundation’s $500,000 donation last fall helped the museum surpass its $1 million goal.

Flashback: Charlotte City Council named Siloam School a historic landmark in 2006 and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007, Fannie Flono, museum trustee and chair of the Save Siloam School Project and former Charlotte Observer editor, tells Axios.

Details: The building needed to be structurally sound to move it from University City to the museum in east Charlotte, says Mark Tully, the project manager. That required repairs during the fundraising process. The roof was removed in order for it to fit under stoplights on its way to the museum.

  • Tribute Companies, which owns the property the school currently is on, paid for the repairs while the school was on their site, and to move the building. The museum will pay for the restoration and maintenance of the school once it’s on museum property (3500 Shamrock Dr.)
  • All of the materials are being saved and will be repurposed during the restoration process, and they will use period materials and construction techniques, Tully tells Axios. The building’s tin roof is why it’s still standing nearly 100 years later, he added.
  • LS3P is the architect on the project.

What’s next: The museum expects to hold a grand opening next year. Until then, you can take a virtual tour of the school pre-restoration here.

Zoom out: Organizations are working to save historic Black spaces across the county, like grassroots nonprofit Silver Star Community Inc., whom the museum credits as the “original champion to save Siloam School.”

  • “We have been working on saving Rosenwald [and Rosenwald-era] schools in the Mecklenburg area for more than 10 years,” Jerry Hollis of Silver Star Community Inc. tells Axios.
Rendering of what the school will look like once it's restored. Rendering: LS3P/courtesy of the Charlotte Museum of History
Rendering of what the school will look like once it’s restored. Rendering: LS3P/courtesy of the Charlotte Museum of History
Siloam School
The school on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Siloam School
The school on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Siloam School
The school on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Siloam School
The school on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Siloam School
The roof being removed while the school was on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Siloam School
The school on its original site. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Editor’s note: We first published this story on Aug. 17, 2023. We updated it Sept. 8, 2023 with fresh details about the relocation.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.

More Charlotte stories