The Greensville County Training School began before 1912 as a small wood-frame building and contributed to African-American education in Emporia for over fifty years. An addition in 1929 resulted in one of the largest Rosenwald schools in Virginia.
In 1912, a widow named Lucy Magee sold two acres of land, called the "Magee tract," to Greensville County's Belfield school board for $1,000. From 1912 to 1913, a four-room brick building was constructed on this site to house a graded school. Local African Americans contributed $500 to this construction; the School Board gave $2,450, and the community borrowed $1,900 from the Literary Fund.
Due to increasing enrollment, four additional classrooms were added to the west side of this building in 1916. However, as the area around the school continued to develop, the educational facility became inadequate to serve the changing community. Principal Reverend J.H. Waller and a teacher, Blanch Harrison, organized the County School League, an association of friends and patrons of the school, to provide funding for additional facilities.
In 1929, a new school designed to accommodate six teachers was constructed on three acres adjacent to the graded school site. This building received $1,700 in support from the Rosenwald School Fund, an organization that, led by northern philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, helped build African-American schools across the south during the early twentieth century. The Rosenwald Fund referred to this school as the "South Emporia Training School."
By 1933, the Greensville County School's four-year curriculum was accredited and an additional building constructed for manual training. Between 1934 and 1935, a three-room wing with more classrooms was added. The original graded school remained in use for a time, in conjunction with the new school, but was demolished during the 1930s. In the 1940s, a further addition was built on the west side, connected to the earlier building by a covered walkway.
The Greensville County Training School offered home economics, vocational agriculture, carpentry, and masonry, as well as a general education curriculum including English and History. In addition to its instructional role, the school functioned as the center of Emporia's African-American community and housed meetings of the local NAACP chapter, among other activities.
In 1954 a new "separate but equal" school named Wyatt High School was constructed closer to Emporia's center. African American high school students moved to this building, while the Greensville County Training School became a Learning Center for black elementary students. The school closed following desegregation in the 1960s, and the School Board began to use the facility for storage.
The Greensville County Training School is located at 105 Ruffin Street in Emporia, VA. The school remains standing today, though the building has deteriorated due to years of neglect.
Geographical and Contact Information
105 Ruffin Street