Formerly the John J. Wright Parksite, the renamed Spotsylvania Sunday School Union (SSSU) Parksite is an example of long- standing community partnership and involvement. The parksite comprises 10 acres - a portion of 158.5 acres originally owned by the SSSU since 1910.
~ How it came to be ~
Beginning the fifth Sunday in July 1905, 19 African American baptist churches came together at the invitation of educator John J. Wright and formed what was subsequently called the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union. They raised money over five years and used $475.50 to purchase 158.5 acres from D. F. and Cora Altenburg on January 10, 1910. On four acres of that land, they contracted to build a school, the Spotsylvania Graded School, completed in the early 1920s. The number of churches in the SSSU soon stabilized at 12 and remains so today.
In 1941, more than 30 years after their land purchase, the SSSU deeded 20 acres, including land on which the original school once stood, to the Spotsylvania School Board, leaving 138.5 acres stilled owned by the SSSU.
A beautification project was instituted in the late 1970s whereby a brick shelter and other amenities were added to the park. Contracted to build the picnic shelter was Aaron Fairchild. Sadly, he died on October 21, 1979 before he finished the building, and the SSSU contracted with Bennie Carter who completed the project.
Once complete, the new building and improved grounds were officially dedicated on July 31, 1983. A memorial plaque in honor of those who had given exemplary service to the SSSU was also unveiled.
The park and accompanying acreage are still owned and administered by trustees of the SSSU.
(upper right) Above: Aaron Alfred Fairchild, son of Alfred and Rose Anna Lewis Fairchild, unknown date, courtesy Layton R. Fairchild, Sr.
(lower right) Below: Bennie L. Carter, son of Robert and Birdie Johnson Carter, photograph c. 1945, courtesy Gladys Carter Cook
The African American Heritage Trail is supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. This product is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.