A new mural at Scotts Rosenwald Park celebrates the history of the Scotts Rosenwald School and long-time Principal Charles W. Rankin.

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Using a $4,944 grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, Iredell County contracted with local artist Joey Dill to create a mural at Scotts Rosenwald Park, located at 1374 Scotts Creek Road in Statesville, that honors the legacy of Charles W. Rankin and the Scotts Rosenwald School. 

Scotts Rosenwald Park opened in 2014 on the former site of the Scotts Rosenwald School. Since that time, the park has been a place for residents to enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities or celebrate special occasions in the community building.

The recently completed mural illustrates the historical importance of the Scotts Rosenwald School by highlighting the influence that its final principal, Charles W. Rankin, had on education and the county.

The artist wanted to show the character and faithfulness of those behind the history of the school. Because of the sacrifice and devotion of people like Rankin, the school rose to new heights and had a lasting impact on the Scotts community. Through depictions of learning, resilience, and unity, the mural serves as a touching reminder of the school’s legacy.

“I want to thank the Iredell County Parks and Recreation Department for entrusting me with this special mural project.” Dill said. “I’ve learned over the course of painting the mural, it means a lot to the Scotts community. I’ve received so many compliments and had a lot of visitors. Some of those visitors knew Mr. Rankin personally and had only wonderful things to say about him. I hope the painting is befitting of him and brings light to Scotts Rosenwald School.”

The History of Scotts Rosenwald School

Scotts Rosenwald School opened in 1866 as Scotts School for Blacks, a name that reflected the segregated education system that existed in the U.S. until the 1950s and 1960s. Rosenwald Schools were created to improve education for African-Americans, particularly in rural areas, through a partnership between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington.

Rosenwald was a Jewish-American businessman, who was part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Washington, who born into slavery, became one of the pre-eminent African-American leaders and educators of the time. Together, Rosenwald and Washington provided funding to support more than 5,000 Rosenwald Schools across the country, like Scotts Rosenwald School in Statesville.

After the school closed in 1968, the community purchased the school at auction from the Iredell County Board of Education for use as a community center. In 2014, Iredell County opened Scotts Rosenwald Park on the site through a grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

About Principal Charles W. Rankin

Charles W. Rankin was the last principal at Scotts Rosenwald School, a role he occupied for more than 30 years until the school closed permanently in 1968. Rankin attended the school as a child and worked his way up to the top leadership position. While serving as principal, he continued teaching and coaching basketball. Mildred Reid Rankin, his wife of 64 years before her passing, worked alongside him as a fellow teacher through the years. Rankin passed away on September 10, 2011, at age 95, after having given so much to Iredell County, its school system, and all those whose lives he touched.

Artist Joey Dill works on the mural, which was funded by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
About the Artist

A second-generation artist, Joey Dill grew up in the Statesville and Troutman area surrounded by art and creativity. Her mother was a creative hairstylist, and her late father was a sign painter. Both encouraged her artistic endeavors. Her childhood was spent in her father’s sign shop, drawing on every scrap of paper she could find. Eventually she was able to help her father with some of the pieces he created. A few of those pieces they worked on together many years ago still exist today, including those at Kat’s Patch and the Iredell County Fairgrounds in Troutman.

Dill began painting murals in the late 1990s and has completed projects across both North Carolina and South Carolina. Three of her Pepsi/Mountain Dew murals are in Troutman.

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