Loudoun County is soliciting proposals to lease the historic Union Street School property under the terms of the county’s Resident Curator Program.
The program is designed to reduce the public costs associated with the care and preservation of publicly owned historic properties by allowing groups or individuals to take over those responsibilities, while providing periodic public access. The properties are leased long-term to the curators without charge in exchange for a financial and public access commitment. Properties included in the program have been deemed historically significant and either meet the county’s established criteria of eligibility for curation or qualify for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The two-story Union Street School, located at 20 Union St. NW in Leesburg, is the first county property in the Resident Curator Program. It opened in 1884 as the Leesburg Training Center, which served Black students in elementary through high school at various times during its history. The school closed in 1958 after the opening of Douglass High School in Leesburg, the county’s first high school for Black students, and the opening of a consolidated elementary school in Leesburg that served the county’s Black students. It is being nominated for inclusion in the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ Historic African American Sites.
For 60 years, the building served as a storage facility for Loudoun County Public Schools before the school system handed it over to the Board of Supervisors. In October the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to add a project to rehabilitate the building to the county’s Capital Improvement Program, as well as to seek proposals from the public to operate, manage, preserve and maintain the building.
A curator may be a private citizen, a nonprofit, or a for-profit entity. The proposed rehabilitation must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, and the curator must provide “reasonable public access” to the property. Curators will be selected through a competitive process based on several criteria, including a commitment to the management and maintenance of the historic property, a use that is compatible with the nature of the property, and the resources, skills and financial capabilities necessary to carry out the proposed curatorship.