Education was the responsibility of parents and churches until after the Civil War. Wealthier families hired tutors or sent their children to private schools. Poor children often learned a trade and received a basic education as apprentices.
In 1870 Spotsylvania County established a public educaton system of segregated one-room schools. These schools were gradually abandoned for larger buildings that included both elementary and high school education. The former Spotsylvania High School, which stands before you, was a state-of-the-art building when constructed in 1939 for $158,000.
Most African-American children attended one-room schools until the John J. Wright Consolidated School opened in 1952. The school system was integrated in 1968. Since that time, public education has evolved to the present system of separate elementary, middle, and high schools. As of 2002, there are in excess of 20,000 students attending 27 public schools.
(Caption, picture on left): Built in 1914 at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Robert E. Lee High School became the first accredited high school in the County in 1920. The building was destroyed by fire in 1941.
(Caption, picture on right): In 1905, the Spotsylvania Sunday School Union organized with the goal of expanding educational opportunities for African-American children and in 1913 they opened the Snell Training School. This building was destroyed in a fire in 1941.
(Caption, main picture): Students and teachers pose in front of School #1 in 1896.