Sunday, October 23, 2011

Project Overview

Probably would have been good to put my research plan into words so I can post on my progress and have it make some sense, so here's an overview. My project is to use photographs, maps, newspaper articles and other materials to research and document schoolhouses in Northern Virginia designed by architect Charles M. Robinson in the early 20th century.

My goal is to identify schoolhouses Robinson built in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, to locate and obtain permission to use early images of these buildings, to find later photos that represent subsequent uses or expansions of these structures, and to determine whether they are still standing and how they are being used a hundred years after they were built. I will also describe the design elements that were typical in Robinson's schools and I will attempt to explain why Robinson moved to Richmond from Altoona, Pa., where he had successfully worked for more than ten years. 

Among the resources I plan to consult are newspapers, school board records, Sanborn maps, historic images, school yearbooks, building permits, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, and David B. Robinson, the architect's great grandson and creator of the website I plan to consult the local history and special collections in local libraries in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, as well as collections of the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society, the George Washington Masonic Memorial, George Mason University and the University of Virginia.

Opening of the Manassas Agricultural School, also known as the Bennett School, in Manassas, c.1909.

The former Bennett School in 2011.
In my completed project, I hope to present historic images of each school with a description of the building and its uses. I also plan to use current photos if the building is still standing and incorporate GPS elements to identify the specific locations where the schools were built

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