The Woodville School, located on Route 17 in Gloucester, Virginia is one of the remaining Rosenwald Schools built across the south for African American children between 1912 and 1931. Julius Rosenwald, CEO of Sears, Roebuck & Co., funded 5300 elementary and training schools in partnership with local communities. In 1919, T.C. Walker, the first African American lawyer in Gloucester County, travelled to Chicago to meet with Rosenwald and secured funding for six schools and a teachers’ home. Rosenwald required the community to contribute half of the cost, in money, materials or labor, and he contributed the rest. Only 800 Rosenwald schools remain and, of those built in Gloucester, only the Woodville School remains. The Woodville School is listed on the National and Virginia State Historic Registries.
Each school was built east-west or north-south, allowing for optimal sunlight as there was no electricity. The Woodville School was a two teacher, east-west school, with an industrial room on the front of the building and privies to the side. The publication Community School Plans is a complete and comprehensive guide to the architecture and landscape of all Rosenwald Schools. In 1942, George W. Marshall, a real estate speculator, purchased the School from the Gloucester County School Board for $450 by order of a Chancery Court. Mr. Marshall sold the property to James and Edith Stubbs in 1943. It served as their residence until 2001, when the family sold the property to Mr. David Peebles.
In 2003 the Woodville School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In order to ensure that this historic asset remains a part of Mr. Walker’s legacy and Gloucester County’s history, the Gloucester Economic Development Authority acquired the Woodville School from Mr. Peebles in 2012 and organized the Woodville Rosenwald School Foundation comprised of community members from Gloucester and surrounding areas. The Foundation purchased the School from the EDA in 2019 and is in the process of rehabilitating the building in order to establish an African American local history museum connecting local history to Virginia and national history, and provide a venue for community activities related to the mission of the Woodville Rosenwald School Foundation.