A historic one-room school house that once served as a segregated place of learning for black children in Loudoun County was defaced Friday night with the Nazi swastika and references to “white power”.

The old Ashburn Colored School building, which dates to 1892, was spray-painted with graffiti that covered three sides of the structure with the Nazi-era symbol as well as racist slogans.

The historic building is currently under restoration as part of a project led by students with the Loudoun School for the Gifted. The school owns the property and is restoring the building to be opened to the public as a museum and link to the region’s Jim Crow segregation practices.

The site will soon also hold the new campus of the Loudoun School for the Gifted, which is planning to begin construction on the new academic facility in the coming months.

Deep Sran, the founder of the Loudoun School for the Gifted, said that parents and students had hosted a number of fundraisers recently to help support the movement to restore the historic school building. For more than 40 years the building sat “unmolested” Sran said, until the students raised awareness about its history as a school for black children. Students have participated in bake sales and yard sales to raise money, parents said.

“The moment you bring attention to what it is and that it’s being restored somebody decides to deface it,” Sran said.

Sran said that the graffiti will complicate efforts to restore the historic building. The spray paint likely will remain for some time, he said, as the administration examines ways to carefully remove it.

“It may be a little while before we can clean it up without doing more harm to what is already a fragile building,” Sran said.

Taz Foreman, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at the Loudoun School for the Gifted, was among the students collaborating to fix up the old building. He said that the vandalism devastated him.

“My heart kind of sank and exploded because I was thinking to myself we’ve done so much work. How dare these people come and ruin such an important place” he said. “It’s horrible that they’ve done it.”

Sran said that he had filed a police report concerning the vandalism.

Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement that the incident proves that “Now is the time for our County to rise above retaliation or revenge. We will let our law enforcement do their jobs and complete the investigation and as a county we will send a message that this behavior is neither welcomed or tolerated in Loudoun. This is not Loudoun.”

Added Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman: “The vandalism to the old Ashburn School is reprehensible and will not be tolerated here in Loudoun County. We will investigate all aspects of this.”