Under the supervision of Virginia’s Department of Education, Bedford County built the Susie G. Gibson High School in 1953-1954 to provide “separate but equal” facilities to the county’s Black high school students during the era of Jim Crow segregation. Located on a hilltop campus in the town of Bedford, the school was a part of the era’s broad efforts across numerous Virginia jurisdictions to avoid school integration by offering new and improved schools for Black students that would ostensibly comply with the separate-but-equal rationale on which segregation was based. Also completed at the same time was the Bedford Training School. The county’s sole high school for Black students, it was named for former teacher and activist Gibson, the county’s supervisor of African American education for 22 years before her death in 1949, and illustrated the culmination of the Black community’s campaign to secure high school education for its children. Designed in the International Style by the esteemed Lynchburg-based architect Stanhope S. Johnson, the exceptionally well-preserved school embodies Modern Movement design with its functional, human-scale, strictly rectilinear buildings and lack of extraneous ornamentation. In 1966, the county added a large auditorium and additional classrooms. Since the integration of Bedford County schools in 1970, the county has repurposed Susie G. Gibson High School for multiple educational uses.
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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark