MT. GAP SCHOOL, built circa 1882, exemplifies the iconic one-room rural schoolhouse. White students came from nearby small communities or farms, ranging in age from 5 to 15. Each morning, they traveled to the schoolhouse by horse, cart, or on foot. Due to limited space, children often shared books and desks. Teachers instructed lessons in math, history, geography, reading, penmanship, and science. Because of segregation, African American students could not attend Mt. Gap School. Instead, they were required to attend another one-room schoolhouse, called Mt. Gap Colored School. This schoolhouse was built in the late 1880s on nearby Mt. Gap Road to serve Gleedsville and the surrounding community.
As one-room schoolhouses became obsolete, Mt. Gap School closed its doors in 1953. The National Trust for Historic Preservation bought the building and surrounding acreage in 1973. Today, Oatlands uses the schoolhouse for educational programs throughout the year.
Mt. Gap School, early 1900s
This photograph is believed to be Miss Warren and her class. All students contributed to the school’s operation by completing chores. The boys brought in wood, hauled pails of water, and stoked the iron stove during winter months. Girls cleaned the lamps and chalk boards.
Mt. Gap Colored School, 1940
Children in Loudoun’s segregated schools had fewer resources than the schools for white children. Despite the unequal treatment, students fondly remembered their dedicated teachers, such as Bushrod W. Murray, Elizabeth Johnson, and Janie Stewart Redwood. The school closed in 1955. Image courtesy of Loudoun County Public Schools Student Records Department.
Mt. Gap School, 1940
The most striking difference between the schoolhouse in 1940 and today, is the exterior color. As with many other schoolhouses in Virginia, Mt. Gap School was painted white from c.1900 to the 1950s. After it was closed as a school, the building was painted red. Image courtesy of Loudoun County Public Schools Student Records Department.
Mt. Gap School, 1953
In a 1953 article by the Loudoun Times Mirror, prominent lawyer and Mt. Gap School graduate, Wilbur C. Hall, discussed his purchase of the building at auction and his plans to restore it for historic interpretation. He installed a traditional pot-belly stove, wooden desks, and stocked the shelves with typical school books.