Shady Grove School is one of two schools constructed in Louisa County, VA in the early 20th century with financial assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund which was established to improve educational opportunities for African American students in the South during segregation. Between 1917 and 1932, more than 5,000 Rosenwald schools were built in the South, 381 in Virginia, many of which do not exist today. Shady Grove School is one of the few historic treasures still standing.
The current Shady Grove School structure began as a result of the efforts of the Shady Grove Public School Patron’s League, led by George Walter Hayden Sr., to secure a better school for the children in the community due to the inadequate log cabin school that existed.
The Patron’s League began the laborious task of convincing the state and Louisa County to support their efforts to build a new school. The Rosenwald Foundation required the community contribute matching grant funds in order to begin construction. The matching funds ($400) for Shady Grove School were contributed by the Public and the majority of the remaining funds ($700) were supplied by the Black community.
Shady Grove School is a historic one-room Rosenwald school constructed between 1924 and 1925 on land donated by Patron’s League secretary Thomas C. Jackson, Sr. The school was built at a total cost of $1,500, according to records at Fisk University. Much of the history of the construction of the school is documented in a series of letters received by G. W. Hayden, Sr. from W. D. Gresham, Supervisor for Negro Education for Virginia’s State Board of Education and from Frank West, chairman of the Louisa County School Board.
When construction of the new school was complete in 1925, W.D. Gresham, State Supervisor Negro Education, wrote, “I do not hesitate to say that it is one of the best one-room schools in the State.”
The one-room, one teacher school housed grades one through seven for more than 35 years, providing educational opportunities for several generations of Louisa’s close-knit black community. Shady Grove School is a well preserved example of a rural Rosenwald school building; the one-story frame building stands on its original site and preserves much of its original fabric with very little alteration.
The Shady Grove School was used until 1962 when students were transferred to an elementary school approximately 5 miles away. Louisa County sold the Shady Grove school building to Wilmore Shelton in 1962 who later sold the property to the Shady Grove Baptist Church for ten dollars. The building had been vacant for many years and was in deteriorated condition.
In 2006, the Shady Grove Restoration Committee, a group of former students, began to restore the school for use as a museum and gathering place. The Restoration Committee has worked diligently to restore the school with the help of the Shady Grove Baptist Church, Project Leader Fred Richardson, Gum Spring Methodist Church, Louisa County Historical Society, Shady Grove School Alumni and community volunteers. Committee members worked with the Department of Historic Resources to get the school listed in the National Register of Historic Places (June 2009) and the Virginia Landmarks Register (March 2009).
Kristin Kirchen and Ann Andrus (October 2008). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Shady Grove School". Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Rosenwald Database Fisk University - rosenwald.fisk.edu http://rosenwald.fisk.edu/index.php?module=search.details&set_v=aWQ9NDkyNQ==&school_build_plan=8&school_build_type=1&school_state=VA&button=Search&o=60
Virginia Department of Historic Resources: Virginia Landmarks Register & National Register of Historic Places –