Union Street School

Union Street School on the corner of Union Street NW and Wirt Street NW, in Leesburg, pictured in 2016. The Union Street School building that served the county’s Black students until 1939, when the Virginia Department of Education recommended it be closed because of its hazardous condition.

The 1883 Union Street School in Leesburg is one of 11 historic properties added Wednesday to the Virginia Landmarks Register.

It is cited as an intact example of an African-American schoolhouse operated during the Jim Crow era of segregation. 

“The ‘Leesburg Training School,’ as it was known during the 1930s stands as testimony to the fallacy of ‘separate but equal’ doctrine used to justify racial segregation in numerous aspects of Virginian life from the late 19th century through the late 1960s,” according to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which announced the action Dec. 14. 

The building originally was constructed as an elementary school to replace the varied assortment of grade schools established by the Freedmen’s Bureau and later supported by churches, benevolent societies, and community groups to ensure African American children had access to public education.  

Most remarkable, according to the department, is the school’s still little-altered condition since its closure in 1959. Today, it still lacks heating, air conditioning, hot water, or a modern lighting system. “[T]he school stands as a witness to the conditions offered to the African American community before the end of segregation,” according to the department.

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 2021, 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.

(3) comments

timsmith

Great news! I think it's very important to preserve African-American landmarks. If we don't care about our past, we can't have very much hope for the future. Happy Holidays Loudoun!

RJones

Care about the past. Interesting that the BoS removes statues, changes road names and plaques to remove the past.

LarryRoeder

Also held the first high school program for Black's on the second floor.

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