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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Davidson Elementary School
Reference Number 16000287
State North Carolina
County Cleveland
Town Kings Mountain
Street Address 500 West Piedmont Avenue
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 5/18/2016
Areas of Significance Education, Ethnic Heritage/Black
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"Davidson Elementary School, a small well-preserved, one-story, six-classroom 1950s-era Modern Movement building on residual grounds of about four acres, occupies a singular place in the history of Kings Mountain. Designed by James Lorn Beam Jr., a Cherryville, North Carolina, architect in 1953, constructed in 1953-1954 by Frank Dewey McCall and company of Drexel, North Carolina, and placed in service on 29 November 1954, the school holds local significance in the areas of education and black ethnic heritage. The period of significance begins in 1954, when the school was completed, and continues to 1968, when the building ceased to be used as a black school and for graded public instruction. This extension of the period of significance beyond the fifty year rule, for the two year period prior to its closure as a segregated school, is justified by the exceptional significance of the Davidson Elementary School under Criterion Consideration G, which also satisfies National Register Criterion A. Davidson Elementary School's significance in the areas of education and black ethnic heritage is represented in its history as the last-built of three buildings known to have been constructed in the twentieth century for black public education in Kings Mountain and the only one of the three to survive. Following on the pioneering local efforts of black churches and their ministers to provide rudimentary schooling for black children in the community, a small one-story, weatherboarded frame building was erected as a black public school on West Ridge Street in about 1900-1910. It was replaced in 1925-1926 by a ""five-teacher type"" school supported by the Rosenwald Fund and erected on a two-acre lot in the southeast corner ofNorth Watterson and West Parker streets. In the late 1940s, that building, named for its long-time principal, the Rev. Robert James Davidson, enlarged by classroom and toilet room additions, and known in its time as Davidson High School, was acknowledged as inadequate. After delays, this building was erected on a nearby site as an auxiliary facility for primary and elementary instruction with the high school grades remaining in the older building. As the processes of consolidation and desegregation advanced in the 1960s, the high school grades were merged in 1961 with those at Compact High School, a rural black school. Black primary and elementary students in Kings Mountain received instruction in this building and the older building from 1961-1962 through the 1966-1967 school year, by freedom of choice beginning with the 1965-1966 school year, and in this building alone for a single final school year, 1967-1968. With the demolition ofthe Rosenwald-era building in 1967, Davidson Elementary School became the only historically, exclusively black public school in Kings Mountain. Full desegregation came with the opening of the 1969-1970 school year, when all black students in Kings Mountain attended formerly all-white public schools. Davidson Elementary School housed special education classes in 1968-1969, served as administrative offices from 1969 to 1994, and last housed a Cleveland County alternative school."

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria