Middleburg Grant Colored School, and Move
(See also Banneker)Re-edited 8/15/2023
Grant in 2021. Photo by Larry Roeder. This is now an office building.
Opening and Closing
1886: Grant was constructed in 1886 as a two-room frame building at a cost of $1,000. See Report of Survey Committee on Long Range Planning for Loudoun County, Jan 1940. See also EWP: 2.2 County School Board, 1918-1952.
March 31, 1948, the children and faculty of Middleburg (the Grant School), St. Louis, and Mountville schools, with an approximate enrollment of 185 students, entered Banneker in Saint Louis for the first time.
Physical and Map Location
101 North Jay Street (NE Corner of Jay and Marshall).
November 7, 1944: Grant school parents complained of the crowded conditions and asked that an additional room be added in order to avoid the spread of disease. See also the vertical files of the Edwin Washington Archives in the Douglass HS building in Leesburg.
On November 16, 1944, famed attorney James. H. Raby wrote to the O.L. Emerick, Superintendent of Schools in Loudoun, on busing and on Grant. Raby practiced law in Alexandria from 1941 until he died at the age of 78 in 1981. He was no average lawyer. One of his claims to fame was to win a case for bus integration before the Virginia Supreme Court (James H. Raby, Lawyer Won a Noted Va. Civil Rights Case 1981). See LOTTIE E. TAYLOR v. COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA., 38665 Record No. 3267. Supreme Court of Virginia. In his letter in 1944, Raby said “You have received a letter from a number of the parents in Middleburg complaining of the crowded condition at Grant School. As they stated to you, there were two rooms of which ninety-six children had to be cared for by two teachers. Under these conditions, there is no way that these children can get adequate training. This condition should not exist and there is not any reason for such condition because there is ample space to enlarge the school building.
“As an attorney for these parents, I am requesting that this condition be remedied. It is not our intention to request anything that is not reasonable for the benefit of these children. We are only asking that you would do your duty and that you will provide an adequate building and sufficient teachers to teach the pupils that are enrolled in the school so that they will not become so discouraged that they will leave school at an early age.”
See January 15, 1945 Memorandum from patrons of Middleburg thanking Superintendent and School Board for agreement to relieve crowded conditions at Grant. Grant School. This was a fascinating petition to Mr. Emerick highlighted the problem sometimes of knowing who has the authority to negotiate a deal. The PTA (Community League) of Middleburg complained that Emerick had struck a deal with Mr. John Wanzer, who was the head of County Wide League when Wanzer didn’t have that authority. Instead, they pointed to their attorney James Raby of Alexandria as the only agent representing the PTA. They also found Emerick’s resolution to their problem as condescending. What they wanted was relief for “the deplorable conditions at Grant School,” through the construction of a fresh structure. While they recognized that resource availability was a problem, nonetheless the need stood. Emerick then responded on January 17 that he didn’t want to expand Grant, instead wished to build a new structure; but the complexities of appropriating money and building a design, etc. would take time. He needed cooperation, especially since the new building would cost $85,000. In 2016 currency, that was equivalent to $1,130,000!
See these memos in folder in our archives marked Petition of Middleburg Grant school of March 10 1945: Citizens complained that the Baptist Church basement had been relied upon for too long as a school room.
A terse memo of February 6, 1946 continued the position that Grant in Middleburg was stressed. From the PTA and Community League of the Grant School was offered an ardent argument for avoiding building a new building in Saint Louis; instead to build a school in Middleburg that would service the village of Saint Louis. Middleburg felt that the roads in Saint Louis were unsatisfactory and even impassable in winter. They also complained that in Saint Louis were swamps, requiring much drainage. There were also no stores, theatre or denominational churches and in the opinion of the authors a lacking of “Negro leadership and Negro wealth.” They also felt that a school’s surroundings ought to be able to “offset the decoy of youngsters,” and that Saint Louis didn’t provide that. They also saw a lack of clinical facilities or a physician who could arrive quickly.
Interestingly, they also opined that “in this atomic age,” the school would not improve the “panorama of our colored and white citizens.” Finally, they felt Saint Louis offered little opportunity for boarding teachers. Having made those points, they argued for an alternative site, that of William N. Hall at the historically Black community of Maxville. See Grant School Petition of 1946 Location: EWP Archives, Petitions Folder.
When petitioning for a fresh building, Middleburg felt that the roads in Saint Louis were unsatisfactory and even impassable in winter.
Much history is preserved in the vertical file in the archives of the Edwin Washington Archives, Douglass HS Building, Leesburg.
A Freedmen’s Bureau office was also located on the corner of Marshall and North Jay streets in Middleburg, which became known as Bureau Corner, anchored by the former Grant School. After Banneker Elementary School was opened in 1948, the Grant School location became the Marshall Street Community Center for recreation, entertainment, and education. The street address is 101 North Jay Street (NE Corner of Jay and Marshall).
Still aquiring data. This was one of the larger schools. From 1917/18 to 1943/44 always had two teachers. This was increased to three in 1944-1947 when the student population exceeded 100, though it also exceeded 100 in 1932/33.. The students were moved to Banneker in 1947/48.
- 1917/18: Nettie Bagbey (or Bagby) of Colgate, Maryland. (Abt 1883 3 Oct, 1926), 16 years experience. High School education and summer normal.
- 1917/18: Eunice Fox
- 1919/1924: Ruth Bannister, Born 11 Feb 1887. Educated at Petersburg Normal. When instructed in 1919/20, she 14 years of experience.
Insurance and Physical Description
Insurance: 1923/26: Insured as a Colored School in the Mercer District of Loudoun. Notice the large bell on the roof in the insurance photo in EWP Box 11.
Health and Sanitation
November 7, 1944: Grant school parents complained of the crowded conditions and asked that an additional room be added in order to avoid the spread of disease.
A terse memo of February 6, 1946 also complained that in Saint Louis were swamps, requiring much drainage. The authors also saw a lack of clinical facilities or a physician who could arrive quickly.