John Redd Smith Elementary School

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Henry County built the John Redd Smith School, completed in 1952 in the town of Collinsville, when the region experienced an unprecedented era of prosperity. With the return of young men from World War II, the already substantial furniture and textile industry of Martinsville and Henry County grew along with the birth rate and population. John Redd Smith School was one of at least five new public schools the county erected between 1950 and 1952 to educate a booming student population. One of the first elementary schools in the region built in the mid-20th-century modern style, John Redd Smith School remains among the best preserved. The school’s style embodies progressive ideas and theories regarding education in post-WWII America. Foregoing formal architectural statements, post-war school buildings emphasized practical, economical, and mass-produced design solutions. These elements play out in the school’s massing, circulation, and building materials. Although its design conforms to nationwide trends, the school was a county project, paid for with local bonds and taxes, and designed by area architect J. Coates Carter, who designed several other civic and education facilities in the region. Named for Henry County native and community leader John Redd Smith, the building is a community touchstone, recalling a distinct era of regional prosperity and over six decades of education and civic life for county residents.

Last Updated: January 2, 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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