Bellevue Elementary School is located in Richmond, VA and is one of 31 elementary schools in Richmond City Public Schools School District. It is a public school that serves 350 students in grades PK, K-5. It is among the few public schools in Virginia to receive a distinguished Great Schools Rating of 8 out of 10.
Bellevue Elementary School, the School of Excellence, exists to inspire and empower every student to achieve their highest level of personal and academic accomplishment through the creative, compassionate, and collaborative efforts of skilled educators, active parents, and a fully-engaged community in order to lead extraordinary, honorable lives and to meet the requirements of a diverse and ever-evolving global society.
Bellevue Elementary School will educate all children to become highly successful, contributing citizens in a global society.
The original Bellevue School was one of the first three public schools built in the city. It was located on the corner of 22nd and Broad Street and opened its doors January 1, 1872 with 12 teachers. The top floor was condemned in 1907 and was removed. The old Bellevue School continued to be used for classes of mentally handicapped pupils and as a vocational school under the name of Bellevue Special School. The building continued in use as "The Bellevue Special School" until the new Bellevue School (current location) at 24th and Grace Streets opened in September 1914.
The current school replaced old Bellevue which had been named for Bellevue Hospital. The site of the current school was once the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Southerner who carried out Union espionage work during the Civil War. The cornerstone was laid on January 21, 1913, with Masonic ceremonies.
Bellevue opened during the 1913-14 session as an elementary school with pupils transferred from old Bellevue; in
September 1915, it was converted into Bellevue Junior High School. It reverted to an elementary school in September 1919 (with the opening of East End Junior High School) and continued until June 1955. At that time, the pupils were
allowed "as much leeway as possible" to choose among Helen Dickinson, Chimborazo, and Nathaniel Bacon schools.
In 1975, due to a fire at Bellevue, the students were temporarily relocated to Mosby. The school was scheduled for closure in June 1975 because the coal-fired furnaces did not meet the provisions of the Clean Air Act of 1970. However, this decision was reversed and Bellevue was renovated in 1975-77 (furnace replacement, cafeteria and kitchen repairs, and fire damage repairs). During that same period, Bellevue was used by Whitcomb Court School.
In appreciation for the school 's return to the area, the Church Hill Association donated funds to improve Bellevue's playground facilities. The school completed the installation of air-conditioning, and repairing the wall to the rear on east Franklin Street so that students could again enjoy the rear playground. Generations of children have come to know and love the school as "The Castle on the Hill".
A Part of Historic Richmond!
This site holds a special place in Richmond's history. Two very inspiring women, Elizabeth Van Lew and Maggie Walker both had ties to this site, and each rose beyond the social dictates of their respective eras despite great challenges. One a "privileged" Anglo-Saxon heiress, the other a child of a former slave, but each possessed an equal determination and clarity of vision to alter history for the better.
The site of the "new" Bellevue School was first the home of Dr. John Adams, the land was given to him by his father in 1792. John Van Lew later purchased this mansion in 1836. Elizabeth Van Lew grew up there and was later shunned for her position against slavery and spying for the Union during the Civil War She had ensured that all her families slaves were freed before the Civil War. She later became the Post-Mistress of Richmond in appreciation for the use of her inheritance and the risk of her life for the Union cause. After the Civil War, Condeferate-minded Richmonders continued to shun Elizabeth Van Lew. This was lonely and painful for her given the conviction she held that human bondage was immoral. After Elizabeth Van Lew died the old mansion was eventually torn down, and the Bellevue School erected in its place. The cornerstone was laid on January 21, 1914, with Masonic ceremonies. Bellevue Elementary School was named a historic site in April 2005 and dedicated in a ceremony by the Richmond Historical Foundation of Virginia.
Maggie Lena Walker was a nationally known African American business-woman and leader of The Independent Order of St. Luke. She was born at the Van Lew mansion, and founded The Penny Savings Bank. She was one of the first female bank presidents in the United States.
Principals of Bellevue Elementary School
1911 - 1921
1921 - 1929
J. D. Harris
1929 - 1946
W. Carter Bleight
1946 - 1955
Herbert H. Allen
1955 - 1958
General J. Johnson
1958 - 1971
Russell G. Harris, Jr.
1971 - 1978
Barbara Russell Grey
1978 - 1979
Sylvia D. Richardson
1979 - 1993
Lillian E. Greene
1993 - 1995
George A. Crockett
1995 - 2002
Sherry Wharton Carey
2002 - 2010
Regina Toliver Farr
2010 - 2019
V. Tanaia Hines
2019 - present