Loudoun’s small schools listed as ‘endangered’ by advocacy group


Arcola School, Loudoun County (Laura Tekrony)

Several small schools in western Loudoun County have been added to an annual list of the state’s most endangered historic sites by a preservation advocacy group.

The schools were included among about 800 historic schools statewide that Richmond-based Preservation Virginia is hoping to protect as districts increasingly replace smaller school buildings with larger, centrally located facilities.

“With the continued disuse and abandonment of historic, community-based school buildings, this resource faces an unknown future,” said an announcement by the advocacy group.

Preservationists met at the Arcola School in Loudoun on Thursday to discuss the fate of historic schools and suggest possible solutions, including adapting old schools to be used for other community purposes or renovating and expanding schools so they can continue to be used by districts. They also hope the state will create an inventory of all school buildings that are more than 50 years old.

The Loudoun School Board has considered closing the county’s oldest and smallest schools for decades as it has sought to manage rapid growth county wide.

This year, the board held a public hearing to discuss a proposal to close Aldie, Hamilton, Hillsboro and Lincoln elementary schools. Nearly 200 people came to protest.

“Our schools are constantly under threat of closure,” said Laura Tekrony, an Aldie mother. “We are trying to find solutions that are more positive.”

Parents in Middleburg received conditional approval this year to convert the town’s small, historic school into a charter school starting next year. There is also a charter application underway for Hillsboro Elementary. In Aldie, parents are proposing an expansion of the school.

The Arcola School was built in 1939 and closed in 1972. A few years later, the county reopened it as a community center. It closed again in 2006.

The school, which was built as Public Works Administration project, was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, but its fate is still uncertain. The building is vacant now.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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