An outstanding example of the historic "Rosenwald" schools, Scrabble School was built in Rappahannock County, Virginia, during the Jim Crow era of segregation to provide an elementary education to African-American children. Replacing substandard schools African-American children living in Woodville, Sperryville, Slate Mills, Peola Mills, and surrounding areas of the county attended Scrabble between 1921 and 1968, when the public schools were integrated.
Abandoned and nearly forgotten after it was closed, Scrabble School re-opened in 2009 after an extensive restoration. The building is now the home of the Rappahannock Senior Center at Scrabble School. It also houses the Rappahannock African-American Heritage Center, which features an exhibit that tells the story of the school, the community it once served, and its place in local, state, and national history. That exhibit is presented here in an interactive format.
Jim Crow laws, enacted between 1876 and 1965, institutionalized segregation and racism and denied African Americans rights we now take for granted. Virginia was one of many states that passed these statutes, among them laws that prevented or hindered educating African-American children. Violating these prohibitions could have severe consequences.
Scrabble School’s architecture—and its multifunctional design—was on the cutting edge when it was built in 1921.
Scrabble School in its historical context.
The story behind Scrabble School and what it was like to go to school there.
See recent news about Scrabble School at our Facebook page.