Purcellville Colored Schools

Edited 8/19/2023

There were three Colored Schools of which we are aware, the original of which we know little, the Willing Workers School and George Washington Carver. See also Carver. This page summarizes that history.

Willing Worker School House, (Purcellville Colored) about 1940.

George Washington Carver School in Purcellville. Undated Photo of Carver class.

Opening and Closing

Original School. May have been 1910.

Willing Workers School. Constructed 1919 as a replacement for $3,000.  No details on the prior building. Source: EWP: 6.6 Purcellville Colored. Closed 1948

Carver, Opened 1948. Closed 1968.  Now a community center.

Physical and Map Location

The Willing Workers school (now Lyles Funeral Home) is at 630 S 20th St, Purcellville, VA 20132 .

Carver is at 200 Willie Palmer Way, Purcellville, VA 20132


The petition files contain an undated petition (Patrons and Citizens of Purcellville Colored School, unk) Carver Petition complaining that Rosalie McWashington was transferred, which the patrons felt was an injustice.   This had to have been written before May, 1956 because the petition appears to have been signed by her husband, a taxi-driver named Linden McWashington who died in an auto accident May 19, 1956. (Orr, 1956). 

Rosalie McWashington ended up teaching through the 1957-58 school year……usually teaching 4th grade.  It is also possible that she remarried after her husband passed away because the next school year, 1958-59, there is a Rosalie J. Austin teaching 4th grade through 1965-66…and the handwriting looks very much the same!  Rosalie Austin didn’t teach in 1966-67, but returned in 1967-68 to teach 6th grade at Carver.  That’s the end of the class lists.  We don’t know if she retired or transferred someplace else…..or if she was the same person.  Sources:  (a) Orr, R. (1956). Certificate of Death #12547 for Linden McWashington. Purcellville: Department of Health.  (b) Patrons and Citizens of Purcellville Colored School. (unk). Petition to School Board of Loudoun County. Purcellville: Purcellville Colored School.


More to be added.


During Segregation, the schools were in the, Mt. Gilead school District. There were three schools of which we are aware. Classes were 1-7.

  • 1910: Two acres of land known as the “Emancipation Grounds,” were purchased adjacent to what would become known as the Carver school. The grounds were where Blacks held religious, social and civic activities.
  • Using funds from the Willing Workers Club (organized in 1917) and Clarence Robey, the second Purcellville Colored School in 1919, a two-room, frame construction. The cost of construction was $3,000.  Source: Report of Survey Committee on Long Range Planning for Loudoun County, Jan, 1940.  See Edwin Washington Catalog, 2.2 County School Board, 1918-1952.  That structure later became the Lyles Funeral Home.
  • When the "new new building erected, one teacher was taken away from Lincoln." Source: EWP: 6.6 Purcellville Colored.
  • By 1936, the Purcellville Colored School was considered very overcrowded and thus had to use rented space (question for research. where?). The Superintendent (Oscar Emerick) also felt it was an unsuccessful school at that time and needed to be replaced by a new school building, though Carver would not be built until 1948. (Source: Emerick Report to the School Board, Feb 12, 1936, Edwin Washington Catalog, 2.2, County School Board), Restoration and Preservation of Historic Carver School, Purcellville, Va., 2004.  According to Nancy Emerick, Oscar’s great grandson’s widow, the former superintendent considered the construction of Carver as one of his greatest accomplishments. (Source: Interview by Larry Roeder, 9/23/2016).
  • In 1938/39, the number designation for Purcellville Colored (also known as the Willing Workers School) was #21. Source 1.7 1939 Socio Econ Study.
  • 1947/48  Students moved to the new George Washington Carver School.
  • The eight room George Washington Carver School in Purcellville (now the Carver Senior Center) was considered the county’s first modern elementary school for black children. The Carver Alumni Association has preserved much of the Carver School history. Please come check the Carver Center library in Purcellville.

    From the Minutes of the School Board on January 11, 1927, we learn that “colored people were heard concerning the erection of a new colored school at Purcellville. Action was delayed” until construction began in 1947 on seven acres bought for $2,000 from Joe Cool’s heirs in 1945. (Scheel E. , The Story of Purcellville, 1977). The school was then closed in 1968, with integration, and turned into a storage facility until renovated into a senior center in 2007.

  • 1967. According to historian Louis Jett, white parents refused to send their children to Carver because it was a "colored" school. As a result, according Gene Scheel, "in the fall of 1967, black and white children wen to school together at Emerick Elementary." Source: EWP: 14.1 Yr 1977 Purcellville History.

Instructors Purcellville: Willing Workers Colored School:

  • 1930/31 Academic Year:
    • On April 2, 1930, the patrons of the Teachers League of Purcellville Colored School petitioned the Mount Gilead School Board and O.L. Emerick, Superintendent to have Mrs. E.M. Norton returned as Principal.    Purcellville 1930   (Source: EWP., 2.5A Colored Petitions.)
    • The request was agreed to and the Loudoun County School Board elected Norton principal on June 10th, 1930.  She also taught grades 4-7.  She had 24 years of experience, seven in Loudoun County and was paid $65 a month.  Sources: (a) Loudoun Times Mirror Staff. (1930, June 12). School Board Holds Its Regular Session. Loudoun Times Mirror, p. 1. (b) Virginia Dept. of Education, Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975. Richmond, Virginia, USA:
  • 1930/31 Academic Year:  In July, Harriet E. Tall was also appointed for primary education at Purcellville, instructing grades 1-3.  Ms.  Tall had no prior teaching experience, was paid $60 a month; but had been educated at Storer.  Sources:   (a) Loudoun Times Mirror Staff. (1930, July 10). School Board Holds Its Regular Session. Loudoun Times Mirror.  (b) Virginia Dept. of Education, Lists of Teachers, 1892-1975. Richmond, Virginia, USA:
  • 1942/42:  William S. Randall and Rosalie M. Washington were instructors:  Source:  Loudoun Times Mirror, Times Staff, School Board (from page 1), pg. 2 showed colored teachers. April 16, 1942.
  • Rosalie McWashington was Carver’s initial principal. The campaign for a new school had begun in 1927.  In 1946, McWashington came to Carver with 15 years prior teaching experience, according to the Annual Reports of the Superintendenl, and continued to instruct at Carver at least through the 1952/53 academic year.  While she was the Principal the first year, that role changed to Alfred Talbot, Jr. the following year.  He arrived with a BS degree from Hampton and then proceeded to obtain a Masters Degree.  McWashington studied at West Virginia College and by 1949 was shown to have obtained a BS, though it’s possible she might have had one all along.

    As for Mr. Talbot, his  “class lists” end in 1952-53 when he taught 8th grade…..for the last time?  The first class list with his name on it was during the 1947-48 school year when he taught 7th grade—then again in 1948-49.  In 1949-50 he changed to 8th grade and that continued until his last year, 1952-53.  We don’t know if he retired or transferred

    Sources for information on Carver

  • Sandhya Somashekhar Washington Post Staff Writer   Sunday, March 18, 2007.   For Carver School, ‘A Rebirth’
  • See also home page for the Carver Center.
  • Scheel, Eugene, The Story of Purcellville. Purcellville: Town of Purcellville, 1977.  (copy is available for examination in the Edwin Washington Archives).

Interview with Louis Jett December, 2014 on Curtis Ewing, "When the name Curtis Ewing is mentioned, one memory always comes to mind.  I want to share with you one incident that happened to em in the 7th grade at Carver elementary in Purcellville.

I always felt he liked me personally.  I can't say for sure, but if I had to guess...it was my handwriting.  He loved beutiful penmanship.  The one thing that stood out about him to me was his beutiful writing on the blackbaord.

He received an invitation for a function at the Middleburg Community Center.  Out of the classroom full of 7th grade students...he gave me the invitation.  He would give us assignments to to while in class.  With him  bein the principal, he would travel back and forth to his office.

Directly outside of our 7th grade room was a water fountain. We could not leave the classroom and get a drink of water.  We could opnly get a drink fo water before or after class.  Because I had gotten the invitation.. showing off.. I left the room and got a drink of water.  Just as I was coming back in he was coming from his office.  He caught me!  He asked me for the invitaton to the function back.  Tore it up in front of teh class and threw it in the trash can.  I tried toplay it off, but that really hurt.  Mainly because it was in front of the whole class."

Instructors  Carver

1947/68   Curtis W. Ewing  Born 14 Jan 1901.  Pubic Schools and Virginia State U.


Insurance and Physical Description

1924/27: Willing Worker was insured by LCPS system for 1924/27  in the Mt. Gilead District, Loudoun. Source: EWP: 11 Insurance Record. Box 11 (1924-1957) Page 32/33 (54/55).

Additional Photographs

Willing Worker School, (Purcellville Colored) about 1940.

The Willing Worker School House is now Lyles Funeral Home. (photo by Larry Roeder, 2020)