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History

The Louisa High School-Louisa Grade School educated children of Louisa for 80 years, from 1907 to 1987.

The original school structure was a one-story four room building built in 1907 and expanded in 1910 with the addition of a second floor and a one-story auditorium/theater wing to the rear. A 7000 square foot annex was added in the 1960’s creating four more classrooms and a cafeteria. (The annex was demolished in early 2004.) The school was vacated in the 1980’s and remained vacant.

The original structure and the auditorium are constructed of granite walls with plaster on lath interior walls. The building features large windows, 14 foot ceilings with original tin panels and crown molding, wood panel doors with glass transoms and an impressive stair with carved wood newel posts.
The Site
The Louisa school sits on a well laid 12.4 acre site with four other buildings: an early 20th century house, now The Sargeant Museum, a pre-engineered warehouse, a military style storage shed (a former Army barracks moved from Fort Picket) and a garage. Included on the property is a children's playground and a Little League ball field. Pictured is the school as it was in 2002 and as it was in 1907.

The school in 2002 prior to restoration

The interior of the building follows a classic school design. The entry vestibule leads directly to a broad stair and up to the central hall. Four corner classrooms open from the central space. Vertical circulation to the second floor is continued by a double wood staircase, among the most significant interior elements. As on the main floor, a classroom occupied each of the four corners on this level. Considerable

original casework remains, including the paneled doorways and transoms. See the Construction Photo Gallery.

The school in 1907

Between 1910-1921 a second story and the auditorium wing were added. In 1924 fire gutted the structure leaving only the granite walls. Within a year, the two-story school was restored. The main school was designed by renowned Richmond architect Charles M. Robinson. Robinson designed many important homes, hospitals, churches, colleges and public schools in Richmond and throughout Virginia. Substantial buildings like the Mosque, William and Mary College, Stuart Circle Hospital are still in use today. The school’s plan and general appearance are very similar to others of the same vintage. North of the school is a large open area with a baseball diamond, original bleachers and dugouts.

Building Chronology: 1907 - 2008
  • Louisa High School – one and half story—1907
  • Second Story and Auditorium added – circa 1910-1924
  • Rebuilt after a fire gutted the main building (not the auditorium) - 1924
  • Three county high schools consolidated and moved near Mineral. The Louisa High School became the Louisa Elementary School – 1940
  • Annex built to add cafeteria and more classrooms - 1957
  • Louisa Elementary School closed - 1987
  • Vacant - 1987 - 2002
  • Purchased by Town of Louisa - 2002
  • Restoration completed on Town Hall section - 2005
  • Restoration completed on Louisa Arts Center - 2008
Historic Significance
With the 1907 construction of Louisa High School, Louisa became the first county in the Commonwealth to take advantage of state matching funds designated for free public education.

Initially the one-story school served students in grades one through eleven. By 1910, the school had a normal training department that provided a year of teacher training. Between 1910 and 1921 the school expanded its facility by adding a second story and an auditorium wing. The large school property enabled the county to construct playing fields at the rear. In 1940, Louisa County consolidated its three high schools and these grades were moved to a new high school located at Mineral. The former Louisa High School continued to serve as an elementary school. In the late 1950s overcrowding necessitated construction of a one-story annex. The school was closed in 1987. Between 1907 and 1987, the school had served the county as a public school.
Credits: History adapted from application for historic designation by Sadler & Whitehead Architects, Richmond. VA

Floor plans, school photos and drawings by Dayton and Thompson, Architects, Richmond, VA

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