Colvin Run School
Built in 1908

by Debbie Robison
February 17, 2008



The Colvin Run schoolhouse was constructed in 1908 after the previous schoolhouse on the same lot burned down. The first Colvin Run schoolhouse was constructed on one acre of land purchased from James and Olivia Mateer in 1894.[1]  Unfortunately, this schoolhouse was destroyed by fire. On March 27, 1908 the Dranesville District School Board of Trustees met at the burnt school house and decided by unanimous vote to discontinue the Colvin Run School.[2] This decision was reversed less than two months later. A special meeting of the Dranesville District School Board was held at Dr. Alfred Leigh’s house to fix upon the location of a new Colvin Run schoolhouse to take the place of the one recently burned. It was agreed that the old site was the best location.[3]


Colvin Run Schoolhouse

Plans and specifications for the new school were to be prepared by Mr. Robinson, the Architect for the State Board of Education. The School Board wanted the size of the rooms to be 24’x30’ by 14 feet high.[4] Funds to build the new school were obtained from the Fairfax Fire Insurance Company who insured the burnt schoolhouse and school furniture.[5]


Messrs. William E. Reid and J. M. Thompson were awarded the contract to build the schoolhouse for $1,500. Extra funds were allocated for materials and labor to lay subflooring (including the paper.)[6] Construction began by August 1908 when Reid and Thomspson were funded for purchasing lumber for the schoolhouse.[7]


Some of the items from the burnt schoolhouse were salvaged, including two old windows, seven window blinds, some old burnt window weights, and two old doors. The windows were purchased by C. E. Wynkook, and the contractor for the new schoolhouse, Mr. W. E. Reid, purchased the large door for one dollar. One old blackboard was carried to Forestville School and the other to Dranesville School. The other salvaged items could not be sold.[8]


The new schoolhouse was likely finished by the end of the calendar year, but not in time for the start of the school term in September. In December 1908, the contractor was paid additional funds for Extra work done on the Colvin Run School House and for leveling up around the School House.[9]Additional work was done on the schoolhouse over the years. In 1910, H. R. Tucker & Bro. was paid $3.00 to replace the water closets (toilets) at Colvin Run School.[10]



In 1922, ownership of all schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia was transferred from district school boards to county school boards, which were created for each county by an Act of the General Assembly of Virginia. The School Board of Dranesville District, No. 4, transferred the Colvin Run School to the County School Board of Fairfax County, Virginia on August 30, 1922.[11]


Improvements to the schools were proposed and partially funded by neighborhood Community Leagues, who were organized under the umbrella of the Virginia Cooperative Education Association. This organization published the Community League Bulletin to disseminate information to its members. Issues advanced by the Association included increasing school attendance, child health, teacher training, and school efficiency.[12] The Colvin Run School and Community League, in existence by 1925, was a member of this organization.[13]


Colvin Run School Auditorium

Perhaps it was the Colvin Run School and Community League who proposed the addition of an auditorium to the schoolhouse in 1924.[14] The auditorium was in existence by June 1926 when the League held a meeting there.[15] In November 1926, the League appointed a committee to meet with county school authorities about the chimneys of the school needing repair. They were also interested in ensuring that the electric lights at the schoolhouse remained functioning.






The League also determined to have the electric lighting plant overhauled, so as to keep it in service until commercial electricity can be obtained from the Virginia Public Service Company.[16]


During the summer break of 1927, the League planned improvements, including covering of the walls of the school auditorium with a coat of hard oil.[17] The walls of the auditorium are currently finished with wood paneling; hence the oil may have been used to maintain the wood. To help in paying for the improvements, the Dramatic Club held an old-fashioned square dance that earned $60, and the Home Improvement Committee held a bazaar that took in $12. Improvements also included erecting a flag pole in front of the school. Messrs J. A. Wheeler and E. W. Follen were appointed a committee to have the flag pole positioned into place. [18] A significant amount of the work was put out for bid, including painting the auditorium, hallway, and classrooms. All desks were to be renovated and the blackboards resurfaced. Bids for the work were opened at a special meeting of the Colvin Run Community League, and the bid from H. H. Huffman for $235.75 was accepted. The profits from two additional dances organized by the Dramatic Club raised $49.55 for use in painting the schoolhouse.[19] The League also raised funds in August 1927 by holding a carnival with dancing, games, and other amusements.[20]


Colvin Run School Auditorium Basement

Throughout 1928, the League continued to raise money and make improvements to the Colvin Run School. In March, a musical performance and a play called Two Black Buzzards successfully raised money to pay for the erection of a porch at the schoolhouse and to cement the basement for use as a bad-weather play room.[21] In August, the League had plans to have the concrete floor laid in the basement at a cost of $175.[22]



Attendance at the Colvin Run School dwindled, causing the school’s attendance to fall below minimum levels. As a result, the School Board transferred the teacher to another school in 1929. A delegation from the Colvin Run School met with the School Board and won a reprieve. The teacher was transferred back to Colvin Run School, and the community was given one month to improve average attendance.[23] In June 1929, the School Board released the names of the teachers for the coming school year. Colvin Run had been reduced to one teacher.[24] The school did reopen, for it was noted that when the new term began in September 1929, a new well had been dug for the school.[25]


Colvin Run School’s efforts to increase attendance were for naught. In the Spring of 1930, the Fairfax County School Board instigated the consolidation of the one and two room schools into larger centers for reasons of efficiency. In addition to the closing of Colvin Run School, Idylwood, Legato, Navy, Oak Grove, Lincolnia, Springfield, and Popes Head Schools also closed. Pupils were bussed to the consolidated schools, with Colvin Run School students taking a school bus to Forestville School.[26]


In 1931, the Fairfax County School Board, under the authority of the Circuit Court, sold abandoned schools, including Colvin Run School, at public auction. The Colvin Run School building and lot were to be auctioned off at 4 p. m. on June 10, 1931.[27] The Colvin Run Community League purchased the building and grounds for $2,600.[28]



The Colvin Run Citizen’s Association, Incorporated was formed to sponsor purchase of the Colvin Run schoolhouse for community use.[29] The Colvin Run School and Community League voted to reorganize as a community enterprise, giving up its membership in the Virginia Cooperative Education Association, since there were no longer any educational activities at the school. Twenty-two of the League members transferred to the new organization.[30] Joseph A. Wheeler was elected president of the Association, and meetings were to be held twice a month.[31]


To pay the purchase price of the schoolhouse and lot, thirteen promissory notes, numbered 1 to 13, were signed by members of the Association. The first eleven were for $200, and the last two were for $100. The notes were payable by the following people: 1: Leonard Brown; 2: James H. Coulter; 3: J. I. Signor; 4: Charles A. Millard; 5: H. L. Cunningham; 6: James Thompson; 7: Howard Slack; 8: Willard Slack; 9: C. C. Fling; 10: Thomas Pearson; 11: J. A. Wheeler; 12: A. J. Kidwell; 13: F. H. Kidwell.[32]


From the beginning of its formation, the Colvin Run Citizen’s Association desired to make improvements to the schoolhouse to rehabilitate it into a community hall. Following a traditional fund-raising venture, the Association began with a carnival to raise funds.[33]


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Today, the hall is known as the Historic Colvin Run Dance Hall, and features dances with music from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The Dance Hall is located on Colvin Run Road near the Historic Colvin Run Mill in Fairfax County, Virginia.



[1] Fairfax County Deed Book (FX DB) Q5(121):371, April 3, 1894.

[2] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, March 27, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

[3] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, June 01, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

[4] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, June 01, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library, p. 16.

[5] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, April 06, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

[6] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, July  13, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

[7] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, August 05, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library, p. 19.

[8] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, November 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library, p. 22.

[9] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, December 12, 1908, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

[10] Dranesville District School Board Minutes, March 10, 1910, Microfilm, VA Room, Fairfax County Public Library, p. 28.

[11] FX DB Z8(208):80, August 30, 1922.

[12] Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, Milestones, A History of Virginia PTA 1901 – 2007, Viewed online on February 17, 2008.

[13] Herndon Observer, July 16, 1931, p. 1; Also Fairfax Herald, December 11, 1925, p. 5.

[14] Fairfax Herald, September 26, 1924, p. 3.

[15] Herndon Observer, June 17, 1926, p. 1.

[16] Fairfax Herald, November 19, 1926, p. 5.

[17] Fairfax Herald, June 24, 1927, p. 5.

[18] Fairfax Herald, June 24, 1927, p. 5.

[19] Herndon Observer, August 04, 1927, p. 1.

[20] Herndon Observer, August 18, 1927, p. 1.

[21] Fairfax Herald, March 3, 1928, p. 1.

[22] Fairfax Herald, August 31, 1928, p. 1.

[23] Fairfax Herald, February 8, 1929, p. 1.

[24] Fairfax Independent, June 27, 1929, p. 1.

[25] Herndon Observer, September 29, 1929, p. 1.

[26] Fairfax Independent, June 12, 1930, p. 1; Also Fairfax Herald, June 30, 1930, p. 1.

[27] “To Sell Schools,” Fairfax Herald, May 15, 1931, p. 1.

[28] “Sales Confirmed,” Fairfax Herald, June 19, 1931, p. 1.

[29] FX DB Z10(260):395, October 30, 1931.

[30] Fairfax Herald, July 3, 1931, p. 1; Also Herndon Observer, July 16, 1931, p. 1.

[31] Herndon Observer, July 23, 1931, p. 3.

[32] FX DB Z10(260):397, November 2, 1931.

[33] Herndon Observer, July 23, 1931, p. 3.