Calfee Training School

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In 1939, with federal funding from the Public Works Administration, Pulaski County constructed the segregated Calfee Training School for the Town of Pulaski’s Black elementary school students. Significantly, the school’s construction was spurred by African American teachers and parents who filed petitions demanding improved teacher salaries and educational facilities, an equalization strategy supported by the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund in the 1930s. During the initial planning for the school in 1938, the local Black community lobbied to expand and improve the proposed building’s plans. That resulted in the addition of an auditorium wing to the building, but the loss of access to secondary education for Black students in the county and the removal of the school’s principal, Chauncey Harmon. Consequently, the county’s African American students seeking a secondary education had to attend the Christiansburg Institute in neighboring Montgomery County. The one-story, Colonial Revival-style Calfee Training School, built according to standardized plans provided by the Virginia Board of Education, reflects the state and federal governments’ desire to enhance educational facilities and curriculum. The early 20th-century progressive-era movement to consolidate schools—by phasing out geographically scattered one- and two-room schoolhouses—also influenced the school’s development. Calfee Training School closed in 1966 when Pulaski County desegregated its school system, and reopened in 1968 as an integrated Pulaski Primary School for kindergarten students.

Last Updated: March 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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