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Chestnut Grove School

Chestnut GroveSchool, Esmont

Name:  Chestnut Grove School

Date:  2018

Image Number:  MJ30cdMJ02

Comments:   The Chestnut Grove School building sits next to the Chestnut Grove Baptist Church.  The school building was built in the 1930s, and it had one room.  This 1930s schoolhouse for African-American students replaced a previous building at this location, 8819 Chestnut Grove Road in Esmont, VA.  According to Chestnut Grove Baptist Church's commemorative history, the new school building cost $2,200.  Agnes Rush states in her 2002 interview for the University of Virginia's Race and Place project that "some people named Mr. Thacker" built it.

Elessie J. Anderson taught from 1937 to 1939 at what appears designated in the papers of Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Dr. David Pinckney Powers, as a church school.  Mrs. Elsie Armistead taught from 1931-1932 at what is marked "Chestnut Grove (sc.)," which is likely this freestanding school building.  Geneva Lightfoot taught there from 1937 to 1939. Mary Scott, Isaac Scott and Josephine Feggans also taught at a Chestnut Grove School.

Agnes Rush recounts that, at Chestnut Grove, teachers "didn't teach out there too long.  They'd teach for about a year."  Her teachers at Chestnut Grove in the 1930s included Ms. Quarles, the aforementioned Ms. Lightfoot, Ms. Sellars, and Ms. Pretrella.  They did not come from the local Esmont community; Mrs. Rush thought the teachers came from Charlottesville.

The Albemarle County schools administration's records reflect Mrs. Rush's recollection.  A roster of teachers from Superintendent Power's papers list Geneva Lightfoot as having one year of experience in the school division.  She was one of Mrs. Rush's teachers.  Mrs. Rush and her husband, William, remember that Virginia Murray, who is listed on Superintendent Power's roster of teachers as the supervisor for black schools, occasionally checked in on the school at Chestnut Grove.

Mary Starks, another Esmont resident and former Chestnut Grove student interviewed for Race and Place, "walked through the woods" to get to school.  During the winter, "someone always got some wood in the morning" to build a fire in the school's stove.  Ms. McTillah, Bertha Anderson, Ruth Wenaple, Ms. Swenson, Ms. Mitchell, Mrs. Mary Scott, and Mrs. Falls were among Mary Starks' teachers at Chestnut Grove School in the 1920s and 1930s.

The side of Chestnut Grove School

Chestnute Grove School Students, 1948

Scottsville Museum wishes to thank Maxwell Johnson for his research and photographs on this Esmont community school!

1)  Brand, Mieka, and Agnes Louise Rush.  Interview of Agnes Louise Rush on May 2, 2002, by Mieka Brand of the Race and Place Project. (Oral History).  Race and Place, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2002.
2)  David Pinkney Powers Papers, 1888-1938, Accession #9377-a, 9377-b, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
3)   Hallock, Jennifer ; Gardiner Hallock & Kristie Baynard.  National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District. February 2007.
4)   Rush, Sheila, and Lindsay R Anthony Baker. Perseverance: An Historical Journey, 1868-2017: Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, Esmont, Virginia. 2017.
5)  Jefferson Area Board for Aging.  Days of Yesterdays - Esmont Community Center. JABA, 2009.
6)  Lawrence, Sarah, and Mary Starks. Interview of Mary Starks on May 24, 2002, by Sarah Lawrence of the Race and Place Project. (Oral History).  Race and Place, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2002.
7)  Samuel Baker Woods Papers, 1894-1937, Accession #4648-a, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Copyright © 2018 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDMJ02

Middle Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDMJ02

Bottom Image Located On:   Reference 4, p. 37



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