RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) has recently approved five new historical state markers that will highlight numerous schools and businesses that have significant importance to the area.
According to officials, a marker will be set up in the following cities:
The City of Lexington will receive a marker that honors businesses that were listed in the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide for Black travelers published between 1936 and 1966 that helped them find hotels, restaurants, and other public spaces that accepted their patronage. The Green Book listed several stops in Lexington such as the Franklin Tourist Home, the Rose Inn, Washington Café, and the J.M. Wood Tourist Home, all of which are still open and operating today.
Mecklenburg County will receive a marker that highlights the Sunnyside School, an all-girls school founded by the Carrington sisters that taught students algebra, chemistry, Latin, religion, and proper etiquette amongst other subjects. Sunnyside was established in 1870 after those who had been systemically denied education before the Civil War started to gain opportunities to finally go to school. Sunnyside closed down in 1908 but is still an important part of Mecklenburg County history.
Similarly, a marker that honors the Key Road School, which was one of the only schools that accepted Black students for close to half a century, will be set up in Portsmouth. Founded by philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and educator Booker T. Washington, the Rosenwald Fund, along with generous donations from Norfolk County and residents, contributed to the construction of approximately 5,000 schools for African American children across the South. The Key Road School closed in 1965.
The City of Roanoke will receive a marker that honors Virginia Western Community College, the first community college to open under the Virginia Community College System. Following Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1954, the state government adopted the policy of Massive Resistance. Residents who opposed Massive Resistance formed the Virginia Industrialization Group in 1958. Members of this group would then go on to create the Virginia Community College System in 1966, which allowed for the opening of Virginia Western.
Finally, in Virginia Beach, a marker will be placed to highlight the Yeardley House. Francis Yeardley was a member of the Colony of Virginia’s House of Burgesses in the 17th century. Yeardley is responsible for the expedition to what is now known as the Albemarle Region in North Carolina. When the party returned, a Native American chief (possibly Kiscutanewh of the Weapemeoc) stayed in Yeardley’s house for a week. During that week, Yeardley agreed to build a house in the Albemarle region for the chief and his family, and in 1655 the house was bought and paid for.
Following the Board of Historic Resources’ approval of the markers, officials say that it can take eight months or more before a new marker is ready for installation. The marker’s sponsor covers the required $2,880 manufacturing expenses for a new sign.
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