• Note: Much of the history of the Richmond Public Schools was recorded in the context of a segregated society, and the reader should readily discern between pre- and post-desegregation observations. The terms "black," "colored," "Negro," and "white" in this booklet should not be considered offensive as they have been used according to the custom of the particular period. Since 1962, the division has omitted such racial designations from its reports and publications.

Jefferson (Thomas) High School / Center for International / Governmental Studies

  • 4100 West Grace Street (Grace Street between Malvern & Antrim Avenues)

    Thomas Jefferson is the oldest Richmond high school still in its original building. At its official opening (February 20, 1931), a large American flag and a Bible were presented to the school by the Daughters of America.

    The building, of modernized classic design, was the largest and last Richmond school designed by School Architect Charles M. Robinson. A unique feature of this school is the pyramidal tower that houses Richmond's only instructional planetarium; it was installed in 1969, to be used by all schools. Colossal busts of Thomas Jefferson face the east and the west from the front corers of the tower.

    The 1930-31 annual report includes a picture of Thomas Jefferson High School and the following description: "In general plan the building forms a rectangle with the class rooms on the outside and the auditorium, gymnasiums, cafeteria, de., on the inside. Light is admitted to the inside rooms through two inner courts. The stage-gymnasium plan for the auditorium was used with two full size gymnasiums on the stage. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 649 people and when the two gymnasiums are thrown together a class of over 600 may be seated on the back stage in view of the audience and still leave a full stage for class exercises. A particular feature of the building is its larger library as compared with previous buildings erected... The building contains 2,900,000 cubic feet and cost $811,695, or 28 cents per cubic foot exclusive of equipment, landscaping and architects' fees."

    The 1933-34 annual report notes that during the session "a fine athletic field" was constructed at Thomas Jefferson, under the federal government's Civil Works Administration campaign. In 1937-38, through the cooperation of the Thomas Jefferson Men's Club, the City authorized the purchase of a half block of ground south of the school, facing Grace Street, for the building of an addition "when imperatively needed." Until such time, the area was used as a girls' athletic field. Mechanical improvements (heating) were made in 1956. A two-phase air conditioning and renovation program (library and auditorium) was carried out in 1969 and 1970.

    The rapid growth of the West End and the addition of the twelfth grade kept this building overcrowded until the 1970s; since that time there has been a decline in enrollment due to busing and white flight to the suburbs.

    Under "Plan G" (1979), Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe comprised one of three high school complexes with a coordinating principal (Robert Marchant). "Plan G" was dismantled in 1986 with the return to a system of comprehensive high schools.

    As one of the high school magnet programs initiated in 1990, Thomas Jefferson adopted the "international/governmental studies" theme.

    Since 1991, Thomas Jefferson has also housed a regional Governor's School for Government & International Studies.

    Enrollment:
    1930-1931 922
    1931-1932 1,435
    1937-1938 2,011
    June 1961 1,606
    1978-1979 986
    1991-1992 453

    Architect:
    Charles M. Robinson
    1969 Rawlings & Wilson

    Cost:
    $799,602

    Land:
    58,000 (entire block)
    1956 94,041
    1969 375,110
    1970 392,000

    Principals:
    1930-1942 Ernest Shawen
    1942-1958 Coalter C. Hancock
    1958-1976 William Wirt Brock, Jr.
    1976-1990 Morgan Julius Edwards III
    1990-1992 Gordon E. Hill
    1992- Edward Hughes Pruden