Old Salerno Schoolhouse Preservation
Port Salerno’s One Room Colored Schoolhouse, as it was called, was scheduled for demolition in 2012, but Martin County School District board member Tony Anderson, being drawn to the history of the building, intervened and secured the aid of Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard to save the building. The county’s General Services Department restored the building to its original character. The Martin County Historic Preservation Board lead historian, Joette Rice, composed a historical narrative and during her investigation found information that suggested the schoolhouse could be a Rosenwald School.
As defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears Roebuck, built state-of-the art schools for African American children across the South in the early 1900s. The effort has been called the most important initiative to advance black education in the early 20th century. Attending a Rosenwald School put a student at the vanguard of education for southern African American children. The architecture of the schools was a tangible statement of the equality of all children, and their programming made them a focal point of community identity and aspirations.”
It is likely that Rosenwald Schools were built in Martin County during the Jim Crow Era and that the One Room Colored Schoolhouse could be one of them. This is being investigated further in hopes of preserving the building as a national historic site and may also be under consideration as one of many Historic Florida Negro Public Colored Schools.