Lincoln Heights work

Jerry Harris, foreground, volunteers to help keep roofing project costs down.

The original portion of a historic building that played a vital role in the lives of thousands of black people in Wilkes and surrounding counties is getting a new 3,000-square-foot roof.

The work is on the portion of the Lincoln Heights School built in 1923 and 1924 at the end of Lincoln Heights Road just outside Wilkesboro. The original portion consisted of six classrooms and an auditorium.

Metal shingles and other portions of the old roof were removed and are being replaced with a layer of synthetic felt, OSB board and metal shingles designed to be consistent with other aspects of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lincoln Heights Recreation Corp., a nonprofit community organization that owns the H-shaped building, raised about $30,000 for the work with last year’s annual Blue & Gold Gala and other donations, mostly from people who attended Lincoln Heights and their family members.

LKN Roofing Inc. of Mooresville was hired to install the new roof. Floyd Barber, chairman of the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corp., and board member Jerry Harris are helping to keep costs down by hauling debris away from the worksite and assisting in other ways.

Barber said more fundraising will be needed to replace the roof on the building’s two wings, which were added later. Each wing has two classrooms. There are plans for renewed use of the building as a community center serving various purposes.

Lincoln Heights was among the largest and one of 16 brick school buildings nationwide constructed with assistance of the Rosenwald Fund, established in 1917 by Julius Rosenwald (co-owner of Sears, Roebuck & Co.) and his family. The fund helped build thousands of schools for blacks, mostly in the South, in the early 1900s.

The Rosenwald Fund paid for half the cost of building the original portion of Lincoln Heights. The local black community raised a fourth of the money by selling vegetables, bricks made of cardboard (25 cents apiece) and other items. Records show it was built for $18,000. Wilkes County government also helped fund it.

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