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From 1924-1968, Lincoln Heights High School served students in Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties. Lincoln Heights High School is one of the few remaining Rosenwald Schools in this region of North Carolina. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this school represented a pillar of opportunity for rural Black families. Originally called Wilkes County Training school, the school was renamed Lincoln Heights soon after its construction. The name is credited to board member Reuben H. White, who stated that he would like to see the students reach the heights of Lincoln. During most of its years of operation, this was the only high school in Northwestern North Carolina where African American pupils could receive a high school diploma. The opportunities provided by this school were transformative for many families, and many alumni became the first college graduates in their families.

Photocopy Lincoln Heights School 1924-1968


Copy of Lincoln Heights Deed


Inside of the auditorium of the the school. The auditorium was located on the ground floor. You can see the bust of Abraham Lincoln against the wall.


Science Laboratory Yearbook Page

Yearbook Page

Cafeteria Scene

Yearbook Page

Elizabeth Parks Grinton Newspaper Clipping. This picture was taken during the 1980's when Lincoln Heights was almost demolished. In the photo Ms. Grinton is standing in between the school and the bulldozer.


Lincoln Heights is a testament to Wilkes County residents' determination to provide a quality education for the Black community. The six-room schoolhouse was made possible by Rosenwald funds, the school board, and efforts by community members. Funds were secured by any means necessary. “To provide their portion of the cost, the community sold bricks, fruits, vegetables, chickens, quilts, and other goods, held fish fry and bake sale fundraisers, and even raffled off a Model-T Ford." [1] Their hard work was not in vain because they could secure $18,000, which paid for the school in full. By 1926, Lincoln Heights added four more classrooms to accommodate more students. Lincoln Heights continued to renovate until the 1960s. New additions included a cafeteria, indoor bathrooms, a vocational agricultural shop, a library, and at least six more classrooms before they closed due to integration.  

An interview with Lincoln Heights teacher Elizabeth Grinton describes a typical day at Lincoln Heights:

“Each school day began around 8:30 with devotion and the Pledge of Allegiance. Classes began at 9:00 and included English, mathematics, history, French, science, and home economics. The students had scheduled bathroom breaks, which were overseen by student monitors. Lunch was at 11:00, and students said a prayer before eating. With no cafeteria initially, students brought their lunches and ate in the classrooms. Alumni recall that sometimes they were embarrassed to have anyone see what they brought since most had only a biscuit or small piece of meat, but as they got older they started to combine and share lunches. Some students did work-study in the library or cafeteria to pay for school lunches, earning $30 every two weeks. School activities included movies once or twice a month, homecoming parades, talent shows, candy fundraisers, trips to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, operettas for the community, and May Day celebrations. Students could also join Glee Club, Future Farmers of America, Drama Club, or the Home Economics Club, or participate in football, basketball, baseball, or track.” [1]

Lincoln Heights closed in 1968 after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. East Wilkes High School became the new home for many Lincoln Heights attendees. After closing, the school's infrastructure was used in a way to help the community. The original school building has been used as a daycare center and the additional building as a vocational center. Not all members of the Wilkesboro community saw the value in keeping Lincoln Heights. In the 1980s, to build a larger parking lot for the vocational center, Lincoln Heights was scheduled for demolition. With the community’s support, teacher Elizabeth Grinton stood between the school and the bulldozer and made a call for the school to be preserved. She was successful. The greater community saw the impact the school had on the African American community. Lincoln Heights was deeded to the Lincoln Height Recreation center. The building is now used as a community center.

In 2018, after years of preservation efforts, the National Register of Historic Sites added Lincoln Heights as a landmark. It is currently the only historic site in Wilkes County dedicated to Black history. Lincoln Heights is currently seeking funds to restore the school to its former greatness. This is in hopes that future generations can come to the school site and learn about its history in the context of African Americans' struggle for equal opportunity.

1) Interview with alumni, 2017; Elizabeth Grinton, “History of Lincoln Heights High School,” Preservation North Carolina Files, Raleigh, NC

Alexander. History of Education for Negroes in Wilkes County.

Anderson, Lincoln Heights Served Many Children.

Fisk University, “Rosenwald Database,”, accessed November 25, 2020

National Register of Historic Places, Lincoln Heights Highschool, North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, North Carolina, accessed November 25, 2020

Brenda Adams Dobbins, Wilkes County Training Center/Lincoln Heights School, 1924-1968

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,

Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed November 24, 2020,