Photo credit: Paul Baker Touart , 08/2005

Property Name: San Domingo School
Date Listed: 2/16/2007
Inventory No.: WI-676
Location: Santo Domingo, Wicomico County

Description: The San Domingo School, built in 1919, is a two-story rectangular frame structure facing northeast, with the ridge of the hip-roof oriented on a northwest-southeast axis. The roof is covered with asphalt shingles, and a brick chimney stack rises off-center through the middle of the building on the southeast slope. The two-story, three-bay frame school, measuring 54'5" by 34'2", is supported on a low, stretcher-bond brick foundation, and the exterior is sheathed with aluminum siding over the original weatherboards. Framing for groups of multiple windows, characteristic of Rosenwald schools of the period, remains intact beneath the aluminum siding and is expressed on the interior. The northeast elevation is currently defined by a center doorway protected by a shed-roofed hood, and a tripartite set of 6/6 sash windows directly over the door light the second story hall. The wall surfaces to each side are covered with aluminum siding that hides paired sets of 6/6 sash windows. The window openings, minus their sash, are evident from the interior. The base of the roof is finished with a plain box cornice. The only opening in the northwest end elevation is a single door opening on the second floor to access an exterior metal fire escape. The aluminum siding covers a bank of three 9/9 sash windows on the second floor, and it is unknown whether there are former windows located on the first floor. The southwest (rear) wall has been modified as well when the aluminum siding was applied. Banks of covered-over windows exist on this elevation also. The first floor is currently defined by a center door of modern date, and it is flanked by modern 1/1 sash windows. Three 1/1 sash fill the window openings on the second story, whereas the window openings in between have been blocked. The southeast end of the building has banks of 9/9-sized window openings partially covered by the later siding. The interior remains essentially intact, with a full complement of early-20th century woodwork and schoolroom fixtures including beaded board walls, five-panel doors and their hardware, globe-shaped chandeliers, folding doors, and a stage on the second floor.

Significance: The San Domingo School is historically significant for its association with the education of African-American youths in rural Wicomico County during the early-to-mid 20th century. The San Domingo School, also known as the Sharptown Colored School, was one of seven facilities in Wicomico County financed in part by the fund established by Sears, Roebuck & Co. president Julius Rosenwald. The building derives additional significance for its architecture, representing characteristics of the first wave of Rosenwald schools, administered through the Tuskegee Institute between 1913 and 1920. The San Domingo School stands out as the best preserved of the four surviving Rosenwald Schools in Wicomico County. Other Rosenwald Schools, located in Quantico, Delmar, and Wetipquin, are much more modest than the San Domingo School in size and finish, and one, the Quantico School, is in deteriorating condition. Built in 1919, the two-story hip-roofed building retains a superior degree of integrity with a very high percentage of its original fabric surviving intact. The multi-windowed exterior elevations remain largely unaltered as well, although the window openings have been mostly covered by aluminum siding and many of the sash have been removed. The construction of the San Domingo School in the Sharptown Election district marked a sea change in educational facilities for African American youths, who had remained in small, single-story, one-room plan schools during the later 19th and early 20th centuries when more substantial facilities were being erected for white children throughout Wicomico County. The influence of the Rosenwald Fund's standards for schools is clearly demonstrated in the much larger structure and quality finishes that improved the educational experience for black youths in the Sharptown Election District. The building remained in educational use until 1961.




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