National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program:
Back To School: Sydenstricker School, Fairfax County, Virginia

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

photo
Sydenstricker School
Photograph courtesy of the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office

Sydenstricker School, Fairfax County, Virginia

Originally known as Pohick School #8, also known simply as “the Little Red Schoolhouse,” and built around 1901 (the exact date is unclear since the Lee District School Board minutes from July 1897 to July 1904 are missing), the one-room schoolhouse burned down on July 12, 1928. It was replaced by October 19, 1928, when the Fairfax Herald reported that construction was completed on the replacement school, and a month later the school, now known as Sydenstricker School, was reopened. The school closed permanently in June 1939. Sydenstricker School was the last one-room schoolhouse built prior to school consolidation in Fairfax County, and it was the last operating one-room schoolhouse in the county when it closed in 1939. The Upper Pohick Community League purchased the building from the Fairfax County School District in 1954, and has owned and maintained the building since. The League is the oldest community association in the Springfield area, and one of the oldest in Fairfax County. Originally focused on the welfare and improvement of the community, the Upper Pohick Community League is now dedicated to the preservation of the schoolhouse as a historical building and a community center. The Sydenstricker School was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 22, 2012.

photoSydenstricker School
Photograph courtesy of the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office

The 1930s marked a turning point in the school system in Fairfax County and throughout the Country. Improvements in local roads and the availability of automobiles made it possible to transport children to schools farther from home. The Sydenstricker School was first closed in 1934 but the local parents lobbied the school board meetings and the one-room schoolhouse was reopened in 1937. In June 1939, the school closed for the last time. This date correlates with the construction and opening of the new, larger Burke Elementary School, where the Sydenstricker children were sent. Albytene Roberts, the secretary of the Sydenstricker School League, was the last teacher who taught at the school, from 1937-1939. During World War II, the Sydenstricker School was converted into a center for making surgical dressing to support the American effort in World War II. By 1948 the Upper Pohick Community League held its first official meeting at the old Sydenstricker schoolhouse on September 22. The League addressed a number of issues important to the community, including road construction, telephone service improvement, local trash pick-up and local development.

photoSydenstricker School
Photograph courtesy of the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office

Situated on just an acre of land, the Sydenstricker School sits parallel to Hooes Road, once a farm-to-market wagon road, and adjacent to the Sydenstricker Methodist Chapel, built in 1911, and cemetery (which predates the chapel). The building consists of the main schoolroom, which measures 805 square feet in the main core, and a 65 square foot cloakroom, which was the original entrance into the building, now used as a kitchen. It is located in a suburban neighborhood in Springfield, Virginia; however the wooded property and the adjacent chapel and cemetery provide an authentic setting. The rectangular vernacular building was built in a form common to American schoolhouses of the period. As schoolhouses were often constructed without the assistance of a professional architect; they commonly reflected vernacular and cultural adaptations of contemporary architectural fashion. The simple, classic architectural traits of the Sydenstricker School are characteristic of other Fairfax County schoolhouses, most notably the Legato School in the City of Fairfax, Virginia, the Laurel Grove School in Alexandria, Virginia and the Crouch School in the town of Clifton, Virginia. As a cultural resource, the one-room Sydenstricker School has public significance, structural integrity, and historic authenticity and as a community landmark it is a reminder of life in a small rural community in the early 20th century, and is worthy of preservation and recognition.

 

The group is trying to save the schoolhouse. For more information on their efforts and to help save the schoolhouse, please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/sydenstrickerschoolhouse

Read the Washington Post article on the property at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/springfields-sydenstricker-schoolhouse-added-to-national-register-of-historic-places/2012/09/10/eaac22f2-fade-11e1-ab03-6dd8b366b547_blog.html

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