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Booker T. Washington School

We are honored and privileged to be a tiny part of this the Booker T. Washington School building's incredible story. Our deep thanks to the City of Rushville and the Parks Department for their support in allowing us to make our home here. This history is from their research.


The building is available to local nonprofits and organizations to host meetings. It may be rented by the public for showers, birthday parties, reunions, etc. For availability and reservations, please contact, Carla Sharpe at or 765-932-3735.

The Booker T. Washington building is a historic educational landmark that dates back to the 1880s. The original building burned down and was rebuilt between 1904 and 1905. The building served as the focal point for Rushville’s African American community.

The children who attended the school ranged from 1st to 6th grade, having roughly 77 students in attendance. The upstairs of the building served as a political and social gathering center. As early as 1910, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began meeting in the upstairs. 

In 1919, Mary McCloud Bethune, one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders, and government officials of the twentieth century, visited the school.  

The upstairs portion was also used for plays, dances, and meetings of local organizations. In 1932, the school board decided to close the school due to dwindling enrollment and economic struggle. The building is one of the few surviving school buildings in Indiana to once serve as an African American only school. 

Hard Times

After many years of inactivity the building had fallen into serious disrepair.  Rush County Heritage led the effort to help find funding to save and restore the old school. At that time, The Booker T. Washington Center Association was formed.  The center’s officers were Bill Goins, President; Larry Stout, Vice President; Carl Harcourt, Treasurer; and Doris McDougal, Secretary.  Other major supporters were Mayor Joe Delon and native son Joe Hogsett. 



The Booker T. Washington building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and the restoration was completed in 1992 at a cost of $164,470. The project also won the Indiana Landmarks State Award and National Trust for Historical Preservation Award. 
Recently, the building has seen renovations and is currently occupied by the Arts and Cultural Council of Rush County, known as imagine:nation.  

The building is owned by the City and overseen by the Parks Department.  Each year there is a golf outing that helps to preserve this wonderful piece of Rush County history.

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