In 1875, when obvious that the city's black children were going to need a school, black Baptists who owned the Old Stone Church gave the city school board a 99-year lease on its building for $1. In return, the school board was charged with making the necessary repairs to turn the building into a school and maintain it. May 17, 1878 school board's minutes show the repairs totaled $446 — not an inconsequential sum in those days. For many years, the school was called the Winchester Colored School. In 1916, with the arrival of Powell W. Gibson as principal, the name was changed to Frederick Douglas School to honor the black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. The second 's' Douglass' name was omitted.
In 1924, the black community petitioned the city school board for a new school to replace the severely overcrowded Old Stone Church. The 'new' Douglas School opened at 598 N. Kent St in 1927 using funds from the Handley Trust. That facility served black children until the city schools were integrated in 1966.
R. Page Hall (1st Principal 1875-1908) and Powell W. Gibson (3rd Principal1916-1940) in front of Winchester Colored School
Faculty at Douglas School in 1938-1939. Front row: Kirk N. Gaskins, Sr. (4th Principal 1940-1966), Principal Powell W. Gibson, Simon Cook. Back row: Anna Q. Brooks
Tokes, Lovelena Lomax Marcus, Blanche Gibson Moten, Nerissa Wright, and Hattie M. Lea.
Winchester Colored School in Old Stone Church c. 1927. Building still stands at 306 E. Piccadilly St (opposite side of roundabout).
Douglas School still stands at 598 N. Kent St. c. 1927
All images courtesy of Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA