Nokesville Elementary School

This report was created by Elaine Yankey in April, 2014:

I believe Nokesville Elementary School should be recognized for its importance to the history of Prince William County. It represents the determination of the citizens of Nokesville to see that their children and the children of future generations receive a world class education.

In the early twentieth century, all children in the western part of Prince William County attended small community schools that provided an elementary education. The only high school for those students was in Manassas. There were no paved roads in the western part of the county. Most folks traveled by horse or by foot. In bad weather, students could not get to Manassas to attend school unless they boarded in town. That was an expensive, awkward, and mostly unworkable situation. Therefore, few students who lived in rural Prince William County attended school beyond elementary school.

On July 31, 1908 a committee representing people of the Nokesville community appeared before the Prince William County to request that the Board make an effort to establish a state high school at Nokesville.

On May 5, 1914 (six years after the request) the School Board passed a resolution to solicit bids for a six-room brick building with a basement and stone work omitted. The consequence of this resolution is not recorded in School Board minutes.

On May 3, 1922 a petition signed by 66 patrons in Nokesville was submitted to the School Board requesting a standard high school at Nokesville.

On August 14, 1924 a committee of citizens from Brentsville District appeared before the School Board to request establishment of a high school at Nokesville.

On June 11, 1928 a special meeting of the Prince William County School Board was convened to consider a petition and location for a high school building to be known as Brentsville District High in the Brentsville Magisterial District.

Finally, in September 1928 (twenty years after the first recorded request from citizens of the Nokesville community) a bond election was held. Citizens of Brentsville District approved a $32,000 bond issue for construction and furnishing of a high school in Nokesville.

On May 2, 1929 the boiler room was dug, foundations were poured, walls were built, and windows were set. Suddenly, a tornado took aim at Nokesville and struck the construction site destroying walls and windows.

emarkably, on September 5, 1929 the structure was ready for occupancy and the first students entered Brentsville District High School at Nokesville. There were six classrooms, an auditorium with a room behind the stage that was immediately adopted as a 7th classroom, and 2 restrooms. With the "stage room," there were 7 classrooms to accommodate 11 grades (there was no 8th grade at that time) because the School Board had decided to close most of the small community grade schools within Brentsville District.

By 1931 the size of the building housing Brentsville District High School was obviously inadequate, so members of the community contributed materials and labor to build a gymnasium with a dirt floor and a two-classroom addition. Grades 4 and 5 were housed in one classroom and Vocational Agriculture was taught in the other. On November 2, 1938, the School Board authorized the Superintendent to proceed to have a floor laid in the gymnasium of Brentsville District High School during the month of November.

In 1932 the community built a brick building to the west of the gym that housed a classroom in the front and a Vocational Agriculture shop in the rear. To help pay for that the building materials, the School Board obtained $1500 from the Literary Loan Fund, $750 from the State Agriculture Fund, and $350 from the Brentsville District School Fund. The labor to build the structure was contributed by members of the community and by students.

In 1937 the School Board bought an additional parcel of land adjoining the school property. On that land they paid $3925 to erect a Cape Cod style cottage to house the Home Economics Department. The living room and dining room furniture for the cottage were built by R. S. Britton, a Nokesville cabinet maker.

In 1938, a wood floor was installed in the gym, and in 1946 the community added a large room to the rear of the building. That room was the community cannery. Soon after the addition of the cannery, Martha Irvin began using the cannery as a kitchen to prepare hot meals for students. Tables and chairs were set up on the gym floor at lunch time and taken down immediately afterward. That was the first "cafeteria" at Brentsville District High School.

In 1953 a two-story wing was added to the west side of the main school building. The lower floor housed 2 restrooms, a large classroom to serve as a music room, and a cafeteria. (Prior to this building, the boiler room of the main school building served as the music room.) The second floor of the new wing housed a library, 4 classrooms, and 2 restrooms.

Only the original part of the old Brentsville District High School and the gymnasium remain from the original 4 buildings that made up the original complex.