The Loudoun County School Board is poised to hand over the site of the former Douglass Elementary School on Union Street in Leesburg to the county.
The School Board’s Finance and Facilities Committee gave the thumbs up to a plan to surplus the .84-acre parcel to the county, and suggested that the county either give or rent the historic schoolhouse, also known as Union Street School, to the Loudoun Freedom Center.
The building served the county’s black students from the early 1880s to 1958, first as the Leesburg Training School, then the Leesburg Colored School, and later as Douglass Elementary School. For the past 75 years, the school system has used it for storage.
Leaders of the Loudoun Freedom Center have said they want to restore the building and reopen it as a museum of sorts, displaying artifacts on black education in Loudoun and a “Hall of Fame” that tells the stories of the teachers who taught at the school and the students who attended.
Kevin Lewis, assistant superintendent of Support Services, stressed that the School Board’s decision to surplus the property to the county would not be contingent on the county agreeing to give or lease the building to the Freedom Center. “That’s just our recommendation,” he said.
The property also includes a second building that houses the Parent Resource Center and the school system’s Child Find, which provides free developmental screenings for preschool children. The School Board wants to lease that building from the county to continue using it until 2022, when those programs can be moved to the renovated Douglass School on East Market Street.
“I think this is a great solution,” School Board member Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said. “And I appreciate those who have worked to make it happen.”
Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) told Loudoun Now on Wednesday that the county will likely support the plan to either sell or lease the Union Street School to the Loudoun Freedom Center.
“It is the only group that has shown interest in the building, she said. “This takes the School Board out of the middle of the mix and allows the Loudoun Freedom Center to work directly with the county, so this will probably be easier.”