BANNEKER, St. Louis
Note: After integration, Banneker remained to today as a functioning school. Its post office is Middleburg; but it is in the village of St. Louis. See also St. Louis Colored Schools.
Data as of 9/18/2015, edited 3/10/2016, 10/13/2016
Source: LCPS archives. History of Banneker School Begun 1948. See also “Why Did We Lost So Much in 44 Years?” by Johnnie T. Smith in The Middleburg Mystique: A Peek inside the gates of Middleburg, Va. by Vicki Moon, Capital Books, July, 2002. (pp 71)
“EARLY HISTORY OF BANNEKER SCHOOL
For many years, the two room African American school in Middleburg(Grant) and the one room school in St. Louis had overcrowded conditions. Often Grant had an enrollment of over 100, and the St. Louis school ranged from sixty to seventy-two. To relieve the situation, Mr. Eli P. Howard Sr. sold the lot which became Banneker to Mr. William Benton of Middleburg on October 20, 1945. (Source: Letter from Mr. Howard to O.L. Emerick, July 23, 1955 in Edwin Washington Catalog, 9.2.3 Saint Louis: Banneker.
After Banneker Elementary School was opened in 1948, the Grant School location became the Marshall Street Community Center for recreation, entertainment, and education
In 1944, the parents, under the leadership of Dr. Maurice Edmead of Middleburg, asked the school board to relieve them of this situation. See in particular a letter by famed civil rights attorney James H. Raby on this matter, dated November 16, 1944.
After several years, the school board decided to purchase 19 acres of land in St. Louis, which is located six miles west of Middleburg. A fireproof building consisting of six classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a clinic, and a kitchen, was built on this property. The classrooms were furnished with used desks, a teacher’s desk, and tables. The P.T.A., with the help of some benevolent friends, equipped the kitchen and the multi-purpose room.
Johnnie T. Smith became a citizen of Middleburg in 1938. When Banneker was created, he raised the funds for the refrigerator, the stove and kitchen.
On March 31, 1948, the children and faculty of the Middleburg, St. Louis, and Mountville schools, with an approximate enrollment of 185 students, entered the beautiful brick building for the first time. Only five rooms were used as classrooms. A few years later the children from Bull Run School in Aldie were admitted to Banneker. When the enrollment increased the school board added three more classrooms, enlarged the kitchen, and converted a classroom to an office. In 1960, Willisville School was closed and the children were transported to Banneker. The enrollment increased again, and five more classrooms were added. Note: Although the article being quoted says 1960, actually Willisville was sold at public action April 5, 1959. Source: Poster for Public Action, School Box #2, Archives of the Circuit Court of Loudoun, Leesburg.)
The school was named for the famous Benjamin Banneker who constructed the first clock made entirely in America in 1753, and who was part of the surveying team who laid out the city of Washington, DC, in 1791. When the school was integrated in September 1968, the school board wanted to change the name from Banneker to Mercer, but the St. Louis community asked the board to keep the Banneker name. After due deliberation, the board decided to keep the original name.
Courtesy of Mrs. Ethel Smith
Added note: Banneker is the only existing African American school in Loudoun County still operating as an elementary school.
Edited by Larry W. Roeder, Jr., MS 703 867 2056. South Riding, Virginia (c) 2016