Early Public Schools

The Colvin Run School

Did you know that Colvin Run Elementary School is not the first Fairfax County public school named Colvin Run? In the 1800s, a small village formed near the intersection of present day Walker Road and Colvin Run Road south of Great Falls. The village was known variously as Leigh’s Corner and Colvin Run. In April 1894, the Dranesville District School Board purchased one acre of land in the village from James Mateer and his wife Olivia, and constructed a two-room schoolhouse on the site. The earliest known teachers of this school are Clara Follin and Ida M. Cockrill. The schoolhouse was completely destroyed by fire in 1908, and a new two-room school was constructed on the same site.

Detail of the 1912 Rural Delivery Routes map of Fairfax County, highlighting the location of the second Colvin Run School.
Detail of the village of Colvin Run from the 1912 Rural Delivery Routes map of Fairfax County, highlighting the location of the second schoolhouse. Courtesy of the Library of Virginia.

On the map, above the schoolhouse symbol, you’ll see the name Dr. Leigh. This refers to Alfred Leigh, Jr., a prominent country doctor who graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1880. His home, built around 1900, still stands today. His father, Captain Alfred Leigh, served as one of the first school trustees of the Dranesville District School Board from 1872 until his death in 1899.

Black and white portrait of Doctor Alfred Leigh junior.
Dr. Alfred Leigh, Jr. (1851-1918). Photograph courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The Colvin Run School continued to operate throughout the 1920s, and around 1925 an auditorium was constructed on the rear of the building. During the 1928-29 school year, enrollment at the school fell significantly, to 29 students, well below the average attendance number required by law to justify the operation of a two-room schoolhouse. The school opened again in the fall of 1929, with 30 children in grades 1-7 in a single classroom, and closed permanently in June 1930. In 1931, the Fairfax County School Board sold the Colvin Run School at auction and the property was purchased by the Colvin Run Citizens Association.

Color photograph of the Colvin Run Community Hall in 2013. The building is an old schoolhouse. It still retains the bell tower and bell on top of the building. The school had two classrooms and an auditorium. It was built on the south side of Colvin Run Road west of its intersection with Walker Road, on the site of an earlier schoolhouse in the village that burned down. The building faces Colvin Run Road. It has white clapboard siding and a gray tin roof. There are tall windows on all sides and a red brick chimney juts out from the roof above the classroom on the left. Today the building is used as a dance hall.
The former Colvin Run School, 2013. The School Board closed the two-room schoolhouse in the village of Colvin Run in June 1930 and transferred the children to the old Forestville Elementary School. The schoolhouse still stands today on Colvin Run Road and is owned by the Colvin Run Citizens Association.

The Andrew Chapel School

During the planning and construction process, before our school was officially named Colvin Run, the school site was referred to as the Andrew Chapel Elementary School. This site name was a fitting choice because close to Colvin Run Elementary School stands another early Fairfax County public school known historically as the Andrew Chapel School. Named for nearby Andrew Chapel Church, this school taught elementary grades and two years of high school until it closed in the early 1930s.

Black and white photograph of the two-room Andrew Chapel School.
The Andrew Chapel School, circa 1920. The school was built in 1914 and replaced an earlier one-room schoolhouse that was also named for Andrew Chapel. The building in currently owned by the E. E. Lyons Construction Company. Photograph courtesy of the Virginia Room, Fairfax County Public Library.

Below is a list of teachers we’ve gathered for the Andrew Chapel one-room and two-room schools.

1886-1887: H. C. Stroman

1887-1888: E. F. Wyckoff

1909-1910: Roberta Swetnam

1911-1912: Elizabeth Snead

1917-1918: Mary M. Sneed and Vivienne Mays

1925-1926: Joseph T. B. Rector (Principal), Miss I. B. Merchant, Ruth Yates

1926-1927: Joseph T. B. Rector (Principal), Nellie I. Williams

1927-1928: Joseph T. B. Rector (Principal, Grades 4-8), Ruth Virginia Day (Grades 1-4)

1928-1929: Jean Robinson (Principal, Grades 4-7), Ruth Virginia Day (Grades 1-4)

1929-1930: Blanche C. Oliver (Principal, Grades 4-7), Ruth Virginia Day (Grades 1-3)

1930-1931: Pearl Coffey (Principal, Grades 4-7, she resigned in April 1931), Mary E. Kephart (Grades 1-3)

1931-1932: Marguerite Finley and Mary E. Money

School Locations

Three historic FCPS schools were located in close proximity to Colvin Run Elementary School. Their locations have been labeled on this map of Fairfax County drawn by Griffith Morgan Hopkins in 1878.

Detail of a map with numbered points showing the locations of historic schools in the vicinity of Colvin Run Elementary School.
1) Colvin Run Elementary School (modern); 2) Old Union School (c.1862-c.1881); 3) Andrew Chapel School (one-room, c.1881-1914); and 4) Andrew Chapel School (two-rooms, 1914-1932). Map courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Schools of Yesteryear

Learn more about the history of the early Fairfax County public schools in our area.