RPS: A Mini History: Bits & Pieces

Much of the history of the Richmond Public Schools was recorded in the context of a segregated society, and the reader should readily discern between pre- and post-desegregation observations. The terms "black," "colored," "Negro," and "white" in this booklet should not be considered offensive as they have been used according to the custom of the particular period. Since 1962, the division has omitted such racial designations from its reports and publications.

Mason (George) School 813 North 28th Street (28th Street between "N" & "O" Streets)

Named for George Mason (1725-92), the eminent Virginia statesman and author of the Virginia Bill of Rights. This school is unique among the public schools in that it once consisted of five separate building projects, resulting in what has been termed "compromised architectural integrity of the building."

In 1881, a four-room frame building was erected at 29th & "0" Streets; this was followed by the construction of a six-classroom brick building in 1887. The two schools were known as East End School until the name was changed to George Mason in 1909. In 1922, the old Richmond High School was tom down and rebuilt in its original form as a twelve-classroom addition to George Mason; the playground was enlarged in 1922-23, until the entire half block was owned. In 1933-34, the school was so badly crowded that some pupils were housed in rented rooms. A U.S. government grant partially funded a fourteen-room addition in 1936; the 1951 twelve-classroom wing included auditorium, cafeteria, and offices. (The 1881 building was demolished in 1974.)

Despite these facilities, George Mason was generally so crowded that for several years all pupils below grade 6 were on part time. The construction of the Creighton Court housing project added to the enrollment, and for awhile the project's community center housed classes supervised. by George Mason's principal. Under Plan III, George Mason was paired with Reid.

The George Mason program operated from the Fairmount Building during the1979-80 building modernization. This included an addition named by the School Board as the "Henry L. Marsh III Wing," a tribute to the achievements and public service of then-Mayor Marsh (now State Senator).

Enrollment: 1909-1910 664 (grades 1-7)
  1942-1943 1,508 (Junior Primary-grade 7)
  1953-1954 1,777
  1991-1992 600
Architect: 1922 Charles M. Robinson
  1951 Marcellus Wright & Son
  1979 Architects Consortium
Cost: 1922 $ 58,726
  1936 99,730
  1951 492,000
  1979 1,449,504
Principals: 1909-1913 W. C. Blakey
  1913-1916 Joseph H. Brent
  1916-1918 W. Daniel Ellis
  1918-1921 Crawford Curry Crouch
  1921-1922 Vernon Jones
  1922-1942 George Warren Morris
  1942-1968 Joseph Thomas Bright
  1968-1970 Willis Bobby Shirl McLeod
  1970-1975 Wilbert Long Jenkins
  1975-1990 William David Bjork
  1990­ Thelma G. Smith
East End School