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Orange School for Black Children

The first schoolhouse for the town’s Black children was located on the lot currently occupied by the Preddy Funeral Home on West Main Street. After operating at this location for several years, the facility became deteriorated and unsafe, and the property was sold at auction in 1925. W.R. Preddy bought the school parcel, raised the building, and established his funeral home there soon afterward.

With the help of local Black school advocate Willie East, who was a deacon at Emmanuel Baptist Church, the school for Black students was moved to the top of Prospect Hill, at the end of Bowler Avenue. The Orange County School Board acquired a 1.82-ac lot from Mr. Ben Bowler, a Black barber in Orange, in 1923 for the proposed school. The new Orange Graded School opened in 1925 on Prospect Heights, replacing the former Black schoolhouse located on West Main Street below.

The new Orange Graded School was the only Black school in Orange County to be built using the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The facility cost $6,200 with 40 percent of that cost being raised by the local Black community. Mrs. Gussie B. Taylor taught at the school in 1925 and later became the school’s supervisor. The Orange Graded School operated until 1956.


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