Greene Street Junior High School
The Cumberland Street School was replaced as a high school in 1908 with the building of Allegany County High School which was located on the corner of Greene and Lee Streets, the current site of the Coca-Cola Plant and Greene Street Gas Station.
After the opening of the present Allegany High School in 1926, the old school became Greene Street Junior High School and served in that capacity until March 11, 1932 when the three-story structure was destroyed by an early morning fire. Being next door to a fire station this event made "Ripley's Believe It or Not". At the time of the fire, the school had 1,058 students enrolled.
The "Greene Street School" does not bring back positive memories for many local blacks.
In a 2001 newspaper article Romaine Franklin noted that despite living near the old Greene Street Junior High School, segregation required her to walk across town. Romaine remembers, "You walked regardless of the weather. On those bad, snowy days, you had to pass that (Greene Street) school that was close to where we lived on our way to (Carver) school. It was hard for me to digest."
As a young black in Cumberland, Lawrence Randolph Bromery (1900-1974) ended his formal educational pursuits at high school age. This was at a time when black students were obliged to obtain their high school education by entering the back door of the Allegany County High School on Greene Street at night, and to pay for those classes as well!
The road to education had been difficult for black children in Allegany County from the beginning. In 1869, sixty black children were attending school in Cumberland. A school for black students had also been established in Frostburg (but only after the land was donated by a local family), and by 1887 even Lonaconing had established a school. Prior to the construction of a school in 1896 in Westernport, somewhere between twenty-five to thirty children were receiving instruction in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
On December 15, 1894, a list of the schools of Allegany County was issued. It included the Cumberland Colored School which had a total enrollment of 131 pupils. Countywide, there were 211 black children attending classes and by 1900 the number of blacks who were unable to read and write had fallen to 360 from the 1870 figure of 542. Even though the black schools were underfinanced and received only limited support from the county, the attendance rates at these schools were higher than whites.
Information from Allegany County - A History, Romaine Franklin, Feldstein's books, and several newspaper articles.
Photograph: From the collection of Albert and Angela Feldstein
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008