The Marshall Center & One Room School House
The Marshall Center is the site of the Good Hope Colored School — a recreated one-room school for African American children. It is also the location of the old high school for the county’s white children, now the C. Melvin Snow Memorial Library. It is named in honor of the man who in 1945 became Superintendent of Spotsylvania Public Schools after serving as principal of the white high school.
There was a Good Hope School for colored children in Spotsylvania County for grades 1 through 7 as early as 1920. Several years later, however, it was in serious decay and a new building was proposed and approved by the Spotsylvania County School Board in 1923. The first recorded teacher was the experienced Lula Broadus who, at that time, lived in the Brokenburg section of the county. Her salary was $40/month and the school operated for six months in the year.
In the January 7, 1929 School Board minutes, Superintendent John Hunter Chiles announced that “the school had been completed but it was still in need of insurance.” He suggested that $350 of insurance was required for the building and its contents. Although the construction was complete, including a galvanized roof, the Superintendent recommended painting the outside to “keep the weather boarding from warping and pulling off.” (January 11, 1929 School Board Minutes).
The new school, at the corner of Lewiston Road and Route 208 near Lake Anna, got its first teacher, Lillian White, at a salary of $40 per month for an eight-month school year. She was appointed on May 5, 1930 to begin later in the fall.
By November 1940, its property value was listed as $600, while contents were $250. Low enrollment
crippled the school and the School Board did not open it for the 1940-41 school year. By March 1, 1943 the school was still not operational, and on April 16, 1943, the school building and lot were auctioned. At a bid of $280, it was sold to Mr. N. A. Duke.
Many years later in 1996, the empty and decaying Good Hope School stood in the brush. A county committee was established to save the building, and both the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association and architects Herlong Associates agreed to renovate it. Its owner at that time was Delegate V. Earl Dickinson of Louisa County.
It was decided to move the building to the Marshall Center and enjoy it as a local attraction to show how a one-room school for colored children was built and used in its time. Before the school could be moved, however, it was destroyed by fire.
Rather than abandon the idea of a recreated school, the Spotsylvania County School Board located another existing school structure in the Livingston area. The Fork School, across the road from Branch Fork Baptist Church, was moved to the site at the Marshall Center and renovated. The new building had the physical features of both the Good Hope School and the Fork School – leaving the public with an enhanced rendition of one-room education for the county’s African American children.