The Mary C. Jenkins Community Center has been the hub of the
Rosenwald Community for over 70 years.

 

Mary B. Kilgore, photo  from

  Reflections:  TCIO Celebrates 40 Years of Community Service

Mary B. Kilgore envisioned creating a place for
African-Americans to gather for community meetings and social events.  She initially presented this project to a
group at Bethel Baptist Church.  The idea
was greeted with enthusiasm and on June 8, 1942 the first Community Center in
Rosenwald opened at the church.  It
offered a children’s nursery, daily craft activities for 6-12 year olds, and
sports activities for teens.  Jeanie
Kilgore was the supervisor. 

Mary B. Kilgore was a leader in the community for improving
education and building opportunities for all.  She was also a teacher and librarian in the
Transylvania County Schools for over 30 years.

On August 24, 1944 Mary C. Jenkins sold approximately ½ acre
to the trustees for Brevard Community Center (Arthur Heffner, B.M. Mackey,
Freman Darty, D.C. Hall, C.P. Smith and G.I. Elliott) for $85 to be used as a
“Community Center for the colored people of the Town of Brevard”.

Mary C. Jenkins was the widow of Frank Jenkins.  Jenkins had been a prominent businessman in
Brevard for many years.  He started
Brevard Lumber Company, which the Jenkins family owned for nearly 100 years.  Mrs. Jenkins worked within the white
community of Brevard to help raise money for the Community Center in Rosenwald. 

A January 22, 1948 Transylvania Times article shows the
Community Center under construction and states the project was begun in
September 1947 but additional funds were needed to complete the building.

 

The project lost momentum and was neglected until a group of
young people in the Rosenwald community came together to form the Transylvania
Community Council.  They held numerous fund-raisers
and in 1952 held the Founder’s Day Opening for the Community Center.

Their goals included a library which operated as a branch of
the Transylvania County Library.  Mrs. Mary
Kilgore served as the librarian.  Clubs,
including Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts, the Merry Hearts Social Club and the
Children’s Play House, along with a variety of parties, dinners and dances were
regular events.  A craft workshop in the
basement of the building was set-up to teach carpentry skills to young
men.  And in the summer of 1953 the
Happyland Nursery and Kindergarten opened.

 A swimming pool was
built in 1958.  They struggled to meet
regulations and stay open though.  In 1974
the pool was rebuilt and the county took over its operation for a short time before
it closed for good.

The Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County got its
start at the Mary C. Jenkins Community Center and operated there before moving
to its present location on Gallimore Rd.

Today work is underway to restore and revitalize this
valuable place in history.

Mary C. Jenkins Community Center, photo courtesy of Nicola Karesh.

 Photographs and information for this column are provided
by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. 
Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more
about our history and see additional photographs.  For more information,
comments or suggestions contact Marcy
at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712