Dallas County Training School High School Building

The High School Building at the Dallas County Training School is located in Fordyce (Dallas County). Constructed in 1931 with assistance from the Rosenwald Foundation, it served African-American students in Dallas, Bradley, Calhoun, and Cleveland counties. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004, the building was unoccupied by 2001.

A school for African-American students began operating in Fordyce in a wooden building in 1918. Designed to serve four counties, the building was overwhelmed, and local citizens explored options to expand the facility. After securing $2,600 from the Rosenwald Foundation, local African Americans donated $300, and public funds of $9,690 covered the balance, giving the cost of construction of the 1931 section of the building a total of $12,590. The Sheltons, a local African-American family, donated the land on which the building was constructed.

Located in the Mount Tabor neighborhood of Fordyce, the school consists of two portions. The original school expansion, built in 1931, is constructed of red brick and rests on a continuous cast-concrete foundation. Topped with a gable on a hipped shingle roof with diamond shingles, a louvered attic vent, and exposed rafter tails, the building included six classrooms and an office. Constructed in 1954, a two-story addition to the rear of the school created two more classrooms, a library, and restrooms for both students and faculty. The addition rests on a brick foundation and is constructed of red brick, topped with a flat roof. The original building included a central hallway with classrooms on both sides.

The building faces south, and entrance is gained through a central double doorway accessed by concrete steps. A small awning extension covers the entrance. Decorative brick panels are located on each side of the doorway. The east and west sides of the building each include five banks of windows with different numbers of windows and groups on each side. Two brick chimneys are present on the east side and one on the west.

The building was not constructed according to any of the plans pre-approved by the Rosenwald Foundation but rather used a locally produced design. The foundation did approve the plans before construction began.

A vocational training building formerly stood near the school. Constructed around the same time as the main building, it was also partially funded by the foundation. It was demolished in 1954 when an elementary school was constructed on the campus.

Modern modifications to the building are few. A concrete wheelchair ramp is located at the front of the building, and a covered walkway connects it to other nearby school buildings. Interior bead board paneling has been covered with drywall, and the original windows have been replaced.

The building served the African-American residents of Fordyce and surrounding communities until 1970, when the district integrated. The district used the building for kindergarteners through third graders and later fifth graders. In 2001, classes were moved to a new campus on the west side of the city. It has been vacant since that time.

For additional information:
“Dallas County Training School High School Building.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/DA0096.nr.pdf (accessed July 22, 2020).

Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database. http://rosenwald.fisk.edu/ (accessed July 22, 2020).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 04/23/2020