While renovations on the home hid the building's historic architecture, the changes, especially by a junk dealer who eventually bought the property, also delayed the home's decay, Hanafin said. "He put a roof on it in the 1980s to keep his stuff dry and saved the building," he said.
In the case of the Lucasville School, the owner added a lean-to, which helped keep the 120-year-old building standing, he said.
"I envision having busloads of children coming to learn the missing history of Prince William," Lillian Gaskill says.
(Margaret Thomas -- The Washington Post)
Both buildings were at one time slated for demolition but were saved through the efforts of local preservationists.
The Barnes House, noted for its Tidewater architectural style and pine flooring, had to be moved to make way for the widening of Dumfries Road (Route 234). On a cold morning in January, workers hauled the building a half-mile and stored it at the county landfill, where it sits oddly like Dorothy's house in Munchkinland on a crisscross of steel beams. A few feet away, a pile of stones that were once the home's three chimneys sits covered with weeds, a casualty of the move.
Putting the Barnes House back together will cost $196,250, including $38,000 to reconstruct the chimneys, according to a 56-page report completed by a consultant in October.
If the house becomes part of the African American heritage park, the county would have to absorb the costs. Officials are considering another less attractive but perhaps more affordable possibility: making the house an extension of a proposed library. In that case, the costs could be tacked on to a bond referendum that would have to be voted on by voters in 2006, Hanafin said.
But the county's goal is to put the two structures in one place to preserve a more complete picture of African American culture during the late 19th century.
The red schoolhouse is as delicate as the Barnes House. The building is so dilapidated that it leans 30 degrees.
It could have been destroyed for the construction of Mayfield Trace, a new subdivision of 210 homes on 99 acres in the county's Longview area. The county's historic commission intervened, and Pulte Homes, the developer, agreed to move the structure a half-mile away to Godwin Drive.
Michigan-based Pulte Homes will pay an estimated $50,000 to disassemble the one-room building piece by piece, move it to the 15,000 square feet of open space that will be the park, and reconstruct the building, said Melanie Hearsch, a spokeswoman for the developer. The relocation and reconstruction will begin early next year, she said.
The red schoolhouse will reflect the history of educating blacks in Prince William, where there were once 17 "colored schools," Gaskill said. "At the turn of the century, there were only four. . . . What makes me excited about it is that there's a legacy that a one-room schoolhouse leaves. A school incorporates the life of a community. What did it sound like when it rained really hard on that roof? Who were the children who learned around the potbellied stove?"
Saving the schoolhouse and the Barnes home has been an ambition for Gaskill. "Somehow, I wanted very desperately to save one house where African Americans lived and one school where their children learned," she said.