• 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.

Navy Hill School

  • 740 North Sixth Street (Corner Sixth & Duval Streets)

    Prior to the establishment of public schools in Richmond (1869), the Richmond Educational Association operated a school for colored children, with colored teachers, in a group of frame buildings at this location. The principal, R. M. Manly, was a former chaplain in the Union Army and had secured financial aid for the school from the Freedmen's Bureau.

    The School Board rented Navy Hill and retained the colored teachers; thus, for many years (with the exception of the principal), it was the only school with a colored faculty. The 1873-74 annual report notes that the property was very much out of repair and very unfit for school purposes. Since the rent on the buildings ($800 per annum) was regarded as being too high, the School Board purchased them in July 1877 for $1,850 and added six rooms and a "commodious Assembly Hall," for a total cost of $2,394.47 for property and improvements. In 1881, the Superintendent reported that additional rooms were in course of construction.

    During the 1890-91 session, the sum of $20,000 was appropriated for a new school on the adjacent lot. The following year, one building was abandoned as being unsafe; the other buildings were used on shifts. In July 1892, the School Board Clerk reported that the buildings had been removed as they were unfit for school purposes; arrangements had been made to put up a temporary building of four rooms and to rent other rooms until the new building was completed.

    The new two story, seventeen-room brick building opened April 14, 1893, with grades 1-7. (The old buildings were abandoned but remained standing until the middle 1950s when they were razed to make way for the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike.) When Valley School was condemned in 1908-09, its pupils were relocated to Navy Hill where the two schools were on shifts (Navy Hill in the mornings and Valley in the afternoons); this arrangement continued until 1912.

    In 1915-16, Navy Hill was reported to have a type of open-air school in a detached building with windows that opened up two sides and the front; there was a service room at the rear. Piling was used to secure a firm foundation for the 1952 auditorium-cafeteria addition, as part of the area was on filled ground to a maximum depth of approximately 65 feet.

    Navy Hill was closed September 17, 1965, and the pupils were transferred to Baker and Carver.

    The 1893 building was razed to make room for an interchange between 1-64 and the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike. The 1952 addition continued to be used by Recreation & Parks, for special education classes (1966-68), for the ORT program (1969-73), and for REACT (1973-79).

    In 1980, the School Board entered into a 40-year lease with the Richmond Children's Museum (the current occupant of the building) for an annual rental of $10; Navy Hill was subsequently declared surplus to the City, July 1, 1989.

    Enrollment:
    Sept. 1964 1,538 (junior high) + 1,071 (elementary)
    1878-1879 557
    1893-1894 929
    1942-1943 664
    1965-1966 314

    Architect:
    1952 Ballou & Justice

    Cost:
    1952 $171,179 + $35,220 for piling

    Principals:
    1871-1876 Mary-Elizabeth Knowles (a Northerner)
    1876-1877 G. Barker
    1877-1883 Hubbard G. Carlton
    1883-1884 Albert V. Norrell (colored)
    1884-1887 Hubbard G. Carlton
    1887-1901 John P. Thompson
    1901 Feb.-Nov. Claiborne B. Baker
    1901-1903 W. Asa Crenshaw
    1903-1907 Stephen T. Pendleton
    1907-1913 William M. Adams
    1913-1915 S. A. Steger
    1915-1917 Loyal C. Morrow
    1917-1918 Coalter C. Hancock
    1918-1920 R. Hill Fleet
    1920-1925 Wortley Warren Townsend
    1925-1928 William M. Adams
    1928-1942 W. H. Cooke
    1942-1945 Robert D. Tynes
    1945-1954 James Harry Williams
    1954-1965 Edith Terry Hawley