The Present

Elizabeth Grinton: "Up To The People Now"

As Lincoln Heights undergoes renovations, Elizabeth Grinton says its future is now "up to the people."

Lincoln Heights Entrance, Derek McSwain, 2015.

Now Lincoln Heights continues to look to the future as the Alumni Association cares for the building and seeks to promote community.

Over the years, the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School building has served a variety of purposes.1 When the school first closed, the community fully expected the building to still serve educational purposes.2 The Parent Teacher Association promised the community in the late 1960s that the building would continue to be used in an educational capacity, and the community would continue to have access to the building's facilities, such as the gym and cafeteria, just as in years past.3


Thus, as Lincoln Heights closed its doors, the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corporation was formed to save and fund the building’s use as a community center. In 1984 the building was threatened with demolition. Former students rallied and decried the property’s fate as a parking lot. Mrs. Elizabeth Grinton, an alumna of and teacher at Lincoln Heights, stood in front of a bulldozer, halting demolition and saving the school.4


Shortly after this, in 1986, the Wilkes County Board of Education and the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corporation came to an agreement: the African American citizens of Wilkes County, North Carolina for Community Civic Affairs was granted the Lincoln Heights building in exchange for $1.00.5 The building underwent renovations and was re-opened in 1992 as a community center.


Over the years, Lincoln Heights has been used as a daycare center, an automotive and technical skills school, and as a site to host churches and a variety of civic groups.  The building is currently cared for by the Lincoln Heights Recreation Corporation and continues to function as a community center promoting and fostering the sense of community that emerged at its inception as a Rosenwald School. In many ways the current community center serves as a monument to the success of the Lincoln Heights Rosenwald School. The students did indeed soar to great heights, and it was more than education, it was a door to opportunity. Lincoln Heights graduates went on to be active members of their communities and had careers as lawyers, models, actors, medical doctors, teachers, and civic leaders to name a few of the successes of the Lincoln Heights alumni.6 The founders of the school knew exactly what they were doing when they selected the name Lincoln Heights and chose the motto, "Opportunity through Education."7



[1] Brittney Maslowski and Derek McSwain, "Rosenwald Project: Statement of Historic Context," (Philosophy of Historic Preservation Project, Appalachian State University, 2015).


[2] Brenda Dobbins, "Wilkes County Training Center/Lincoln Heights School, 1924-1968," (2015).


[3] Ibid.


[4] Ibid.


[5] Ibid.


[6] Ibid.


[7] Wilkes County Retired School Personnel, Lest We Forget: Education in Wilkes, 1778-1978 (Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing Company, 1979).