Fact Friday 72 – Mallard Creek School
Happy Friday everyone!
The Mallard Creek School, erected ca. 1920, is a structure that possesses local historic significance as a tangible reminder of the community-based and locally supported system of education common in rural Mecklenburg County well into the twentieth century and as a reflection of the continued prosperity of small farming communities in Mecklenburg County during the late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth centuries.
By the turn of the century, Charlotte and the surrounding area were in the midst of an economic boom that would last in large part until the Great Depression. While Charlotte blossomed as a regionally important textile manufacturing and cotton-trading center, farmers in rural Mecklenburg County continued to thrive through the 1910s and 1920s with cotton as their main cash crop. Scots-Irish farmers in the Mallard Creek Community in northern Mecklenburg County took advantage of this prosperity by constructing a spacious schoolhouse on Mallard Creek Road, replacing several one-room schoolhouses in the area and following a trend towards consolidation in public schools that would escalate throughout the county in the 1930s and 1940s. Built decades before Mecklenburg County began to construct a more formal, government-controlled public education system, the new schoolhouse was constructed entirely through the efforts of volunteers from the community. The Mallard Creek School, which served the area’s children (white only) for only eleven years, remained an integral part of the community as the Mallard Creek Community House, a center for activities sponsored by Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church. The schoolhouse now houses the church’s popular and regionally renowned annual barbeque fundraiser, which was actually just held yesterday.
Architecturally, the Mallard Creek School is significant as an excellently preserved example of vernacular schoolhouse construction and as part of Mecklenburg County’s rapidly disappearing rural landscape. The unusual combination of steeply-pitched tin roof, low-hanging eaves, horizontal façade, long bank of windows, and east-west orientation reflect the influence of earlier local schools and the possible influence of the Julius Rosenwald Schools that were constructed by the hundreds across North Carolina during the 1910s and 1920s, first appearing in Mecklenburg County in 1919. The schoolhouse also forms an integral part of the largely vernacular built environment in the rural Mallard Creek Community. Located on a 6.5-acre tract of land along with several outbuildings (used for the annual barbeque), and surrounded by rolling hills and woodlands, the Mallard Creek School retains its originally rural setting. However, exponentially increasing suburban development along Mallard Creek Road will soon threaten this pristine rural landscape.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Survey and Research Report on the Mallard Creek School; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, Emily D. Ramsey
Additional commentary added.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass