John Groom Elementary School

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The John Groom Elementary School in the Mecklenburg County town of South Hill served as the area’s only public elementary school for African American students from 1950 until 1969, when the county desegregated its schools. The school honors John Groom, whose $10,000 bequest subsidized a portion of the construction of the building’s combined auditorium-cafeteria. After desegregation, the building became South Hill Primary School, housing grades one through three. The product of a statewide mid-20th-century campaign to improve school buildings, the Colonial Revival-style brick school, when completed in 1950, allowed space for many more students. The building exemplifies the Virginia Department of Education’s initiative to supply students with spacious, well-ventilated, and amply lit instructional areas. A Modernist-style classroom wing, added in 1960, features a flat roof and tall multi-pane windows in aluminum frames. In addition to its primary function, the John Groom Elementary School served as a community meeting place.

Last Updated: January 30, 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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