RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Located one-quarter mile apart on Sauls Road in southern Wake County, two North Carolina landmarks will open simultaneously on two weekends for public tours.
Panther Branch Rosenwald School, a Wake County Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, and Juniper Level Botanic Garden, a gift to North Carolina State University, will open Feb. 25-27 and Mar. 4-6 for self-guided tours. There is no admission charge at either location – hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 8 AM until 5 PM and Sundays 1-5 PM.
Constructed in the Colonial Style in 1926 and recently restored by Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church, Panther Branch Rosenwald School was one of over 5,000 schools built in the southern United States by the Rosenwald School Project. This massive undertaking was a joint initiative by Julius Rosenwald, President and Chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company, and Booker T. Washington, the first leader of Tuskegee Institute.
Following the Civil War and into the mid-20th century, school systems in the South continued to be segregated and underfunded for African American children. By 1928, one in five African American schools in the South was a Rosenwald School, educating an estimated one-third of the teachers and children. The Rosenwald Project is one of the most significant initiatives to improve education for African American children in the 20th century.
A stone’s throw from Panther Branch Rosenwald School, Juniper Level Botanic Garden was established in 1988 by Tony Avent and his late wife, Michelle. Over the past 34-years, with a mission to collect, preserve, propagate, and share the world’s botanic diversity, the garden has amassed one of the top five plant collections in the United States with over 28,000 taxa (plant collections). To ensure the botanic garden remains one of the most unique in the world, Tony and Anita Avent are gifting Juniper Level Botanic Garden to North Carolina State University, one of the top-ranked horticulture universities in the United States.
“We are fortunate to have the Panther Branch Rosenwald School within walking distance of Juniper Level Botanic Garden,” said Avent. “We are also thrilled to partner with the school to enhance the landscaping of this newly restored, nationally significant landmark. It is important to bring more recognition to this part of our history and the incredible collaborative effort that brought about the Rosenwald Schools.”
“There was a time when community took care of the community,” said Jeffrey B. Robinson, Pastor of Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church. “The partnership with Juniper Level Botanic Garden and the Panther Branch Rosenwald School emulate what was done and what can be done. When people come together, communities become stronger. This collaboration hopefully makes this community feel like home.”
“Juniper Level Botanic Garden set up an endowment through NC State University that, when fully funded, will allow us to open full-time as a public garden,” said Avent.
Fundraising efforts for Juniper Level Botanic Garden (tax ID 56-6000756) operate under the auspices of The Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donors receive an official receipt for contributions to the fund.
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church
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