Noble Hill Rosenwald School
Originally named the Cassville Colored School, the Noble Hill School as it became known, was built in 1923 as the first standard school for Black children in the Bartow County School System. The Rosenwald Fund, established by Sears, Roebuck & Company President Julius Rosenwald for the education of Black children, contributed $700 and the Cassville community gave $1,300 to build the school.
Teacher C.W. Williams introduced the Rosenwald initiative to local trustees and, with their approval, obtained the grant to begin construction. Trustees and local craftsmen Webster Wheeler and Daniel Harris volunteered to build the school.
For three decades, black children in grades 1-7 were educated at Noble Hill. The school closed in 1955, when all schools for Black Children were consolidated into Bartow Elementary School. Eleven years later, the school system would begin a successful integration made easier by a former Noble Hill student.
In 1923, Susie Weems entered the first grade at Noble Hill. She would later grow up and marry Webster Wheeler’s son, Daniel. The Noble Hill school nurtured her love of learning and laid a foundation for lifelong education. She obtained a B.S. from Ft. Valley State College in 1945, a Masters of Education from Atlanta University in 1956, a teaching certificate from the University of Kentucky in 1960, and an education specialist degree from University of Georgia in 1976. In 1978, she earned a doctorate in education at Atlanta University. Dr. Wheeler served as a Jeanes supervisor, or superintendent of African American schools, in Bartow, Gordon and Polk counties. She retired as curriculum director of Bartow County Schools.
As integration moved forward, Noble Hill, like many Rosenwald Schools, fell into great disrepair. The property had been sold to Bethel Wheeler, another son of Webster Wheeler. Dr. Wheeler convinced her brother-in-law’s widow that the school needed to be saved. The Wheeler family donated the property in 1983 and Dr. Wheeler led the effort to raise funds and obtain grants to restore Noble Hill. The restoration process took three years with grants awarded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division, Coosa Valley Regional Development Center, the Governor’s emergency fund, and the Georgia Humanities Council. Noble Hill Rosenwald School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
In December 1989, the school opened as the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, an African American heritage museum. Inside displays replicate the classrooms of the two-room schoolhouse, artifacts introduce daily family life of the early 1900s, and photos introduce other colored schools throughout the county.