The Healthy Life Community Garden (HLCG) has brought community focus and attention to the Rosenwald school building that stands next to the garden. Of great historic value, Rosenwald schools are named for Julius Rosenwald, the founder of the Rosenwald Fund. Rosenwald worked closely with Booker T. Washington and the faculty at Tuskegee Institute to design and construct schools, which played a critical role educating and empowering disenfranchised African Americans in the 20th Century. Over 5,000 schools were built in 15 states by soliciting donations from community members and offering matching funds. Today, very few of these remarkable schools still exist.
The Fairmont Rosenwald School and the Fairmont neighborhood, with its shotgun homes and creole feel, are integral parts of Griffin, fashioned by the unique heritage and cultural patterns of the southern African Americans. The once proud neighborhood is now riddled with vacant lots and homes beyond repair.
The garden has served as a catalyst for the formation of a community revitalization task force to improve the neighborhood. The University of Georgia’s Center of Community Design and Preservation (CCDP) from the College of Environment and Design was invited to participate. An intensive three-day workshop was held with 23 graduate students in historic preservation and landscape architecture from the CCDP, with help from the Center. A plan was developed by these students, which will serve as a road map for neighborhood improvement. Pratt Cassidy, Director of CCDP noted, “The HLCG was a perfect first step for this community development project.”
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