The Bernard School building is an important part of the African American history of Hickman County. The first O.H. Bernard School came into existence in 1930 as a result of the philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald (president of Sears Roebuck & Co.) of Chicago and Booker T. Washington of Alabama working together from a “Rosenwald Fund” who sought to improve the Black educational opportunities in the South. The basic idea was a matching grant approach with contributions from the black community, the county school board, and Rosenwald funds. Nearly 5000 schools were built in the South and Southwest.
The original three class room building was destroyed by fire in 1956. The present O.H. Bernard School was erected in 1956-1957. Grades 1-12 were taught at the school until 1969. After 1969 it became a kindergarten and special education school for Centerville. It closed in 1984. Prior to the purchase by the corporation the building had been a manufacturing and storage facility, then abandoned, and in need of major repair.
The chief objective of Bernard Community Center, Inc. is the renovation of the facilities (gymnasium and school building) to serve as a community center. The vision is to offer services that will transform life for the better for citizens of Hickman County. The challenge at Bernard is a great one. The center has ongoing fundraisers to eliminate the bank note. With the help of community volunteered labor, grants, and donations, there are several rooms renovated and now in use. The Bernard Community Center has been the location for various community events: memorial and holiday celebrations, school reunions, theater plays, community business meetings, exercise classes, neighborhood watch and safety classes, sewing classes, benefit fundraisers and other functions.
On Saturday, May 24th, day 2 of the Tour, the Bernard Community Center is open to the public to see the results of the long hard work of community members. Enjoy a plate of pulled pork BBQ with Southern style veggies and desserts made from scratch. Also shop the indoor garage sale. Please “Like” their Facebook page and also vote for them on May 6th http://www.thebigpayback.org, a one day Donation Day sponsored by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.