County-funded elementary education for African American children did not exist until 1872. Until then, small black enclaves, like Mount Pleasant, pulled community resources to establish schools. A significant boost in financial assistance came in 1917 with the establishment of the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Between 1920 and 1929, fifteen Rosenwald Schools were built in Montgomery County- collectively covered by African American residents contributing $7300 to match the $8200 donated by Jewish philanthropist and Sears founder Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932). The remaining $61,360 came from tax revenue. Nine schools, including Norbeck, were constructed between 1927-1928. This two-teacher, two room, one-story structure cost $5300 to build.
Classroom instruction included the basics - reading, writing, and arithmetic, and followed the Tuskegeemodel established by educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). The emphasis was on self-help andgender-specific vocational training. Conditions inside were not always ideal for learning as former pupil Mabel D. Jackson recalled, "There were no inside facilities, water, or central heat We had free books but neverany new ones. These books were dirtY, ragged, marked in, and oftenhad pages missing." These inequities only increased as the school entered theGreat Depression. During World War II, Norbeck had 85 students from 1st to 7th grades. Norbeck closedin 1951,three years before the 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education overturned school segregation. In 1957, M-NCPPC developed plans to convert the school into a recreational center,a function that continues today.
Funded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation