The Booker T. Washington Center was originally designed as Kent School by George Bradley (the founder of Bradley & Bradley Architects) in 1858. Kent School was the third public school in the City of Rockford. The building was 3 stories tall and constructed of limestone. The second floor of the building was used to aid servicemen coming home from World War I in 1919.

In 1936, the school officially became the Booker T. Washington Center, who purchased the building from the Rockford School District in 1942 and provided food and recreation to soldiers from nearby Camp Grant during WWII. The upper floors of the building were destroyed in a fire in 1980, but the original first floor remains.