Southside High School

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Southern Pittsylvania County’s only public secondary school for African American students during the mid-20th century, Southside High School opened at another site in 1948. In 1953, it continued operations in a new two-story brick building constructed in the Blairs community. The school offered academic and vocational courses to a large student body and enjoyed high graduation rates. Its principal, William S. Turner, and faculty promoted scholastic excellence and encouraged participation in extracurricular activities. Southside’s agriculture department—housed in a freestanding agriculture and industrial arts building—taught farm administration, crop cultivation, fertilization, erosion control, livestock care, and building maintenance and construction, among other subjects critically important to Pittsylvania’s agriculture-based economy. The program directly demonstrated its influence in the county through higher farm yields, crop diversification, and substantial investment in dairy and beef production. The home economics department equipped young women with household management skills. Community adults benefited from the school’s agricultural extension service programs, veterans training, and farm mechanics classes. Constructed in a Modernist style, the building reflects the Virginia Department of Education’s mid-20th-century initiative to supply students with spacious, well-ventilated, and amply-lit instructional areas. In 1962, the county expanded the building with classroom additions, and in 1966, an auditorium. Southside High operated until 1969 when the county desegregated its schools. From 1969 until 1988 it housed Blairs Junior High School, then Blairs Middle School until spring 2004. It served thereafter as a community center until 2016.

Last Updated: February 1, 2024

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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