“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Milestones in Education

Milestones in Education Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, October 3, 2019
1. Milestones in Education Marker
Inscription.  The first known school in the area for African-Americans was the 1872 Old Lick Colored School, located in a modest log building on Diamond Hill, where the Civic Center now stands. Other schools for blacks included the Gainsboro School (at Gainsboro Road and Rutherford Avenue) and the Gregory School operating in Northeast through the early 20th century. In 1916, the Roanoke School Board authorized the construction of the Harrison School, which opened the following year on Harrison Avenue. It was the first school in Southwest Virginia to offer a secondary education for blacks.

Following a petition from black leaders, the Gainsboro branch of the Roanoke library system opened in 1921 in the Odd Fellows Building on Gainsboro Road; it was one of only four black libraries in the South at the time. Twenty years later, a new library facility opened on Patton Avenue, on land acquired from St. Andrew's Catholic Church. This historic library still serves the community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

Lucy Addison came to Roanoke from Northern Virginia in 1887 and taught in Roanoke
Marker detail: Gainsboro Library, circa 1942 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Gainsboro Library, circa 1942
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City Schools for forty years. She was the first principal of the Harrison School, which grew to become the largest black school in Virginia. Addison served on the Library Committee and was instrumental in convincing the Roanoke Library Board to open a library branch on Gainsboro Road. She was vice president of the Burrell Memorial Hospital Association and the Sunday School superintendent of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. In 1928, a new high school for blacks was built and named in honor of Addison; the building still stands northwest of the I-581 and Orange Avenue interchange.

The Gainsboro Library
In the late 1930s, the Roanoke Library Board began discussing a potential bond issue to finance simultaneous construction of a new Gainsboro branch library and a new main library building in downtown. Two years later, however, the Library Board reneged, recommending the Gainsboro branch simply expand to another room of the Odd Fellows Hall. Black leaders addressed the City Council, saying a new Gainsboro library building had been promised, and that black voters would not vote for the bond issue without it. City Council yielded, allocating a small portion of the bond to the Gainsboro library construction. The bond issue passed, and the new Gainsboro facility was designed within its small budget. However, the main library facility’s construction required supplementary
Marker detail: Lucy Addison image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Lucy Addison
funding from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a program which was frozen ahead of World War II. The Gainsboro library was completed and opened by 1941, while construction of the main library was set back for a decade!
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansEducationWomen.
Location. 37° 16.535′ N, 79° 56.378′ W. Marker is in Roanoke, Virginia. Marker is on Wells Avenue Northeast east of North Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling east. Marker is located in a small sidewalk plaza on the north side of Wells Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Roanoke VA 24016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Health Care and Medicine (here, next to this marker); From Frontier to Urban Community... A Gainsboro Prelude (here, next to this marker); Evolution of a Neighborhood Name (here, next to this marker); Civil Rights Trailblazers (here, next to this marker); Social and Cultural Life (here, next to this marker); A Once-Vibrant African American Community (here, next to this marker); The Influence of Churches in Gainsboro (here, next to this marker); Hotel Roanoke (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Gainesborough •
Marker detail: Addison High School in the 1920s image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Addison High School in the 1920s
The school later became Booker T. Washington Jr. High School. It is now used for school administration.
Big Lick • Roanoke
Also see . . .  Lucy Addison (Wikipedia). Addison was born in 1861 to Charles Addison and Elizabeth Anderson Addison, both of whom were slaves. After her family was emancipated she began attending school. She later traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Institute for Colored Youth, and graduated with a teaching degree in 1882. In 1886, she moved to Roanoke, Virginia to teach at the First Ward Colored School. In 2011 Addison was honored as one of the Library of Virginia's "Virginia Women in History" for her contributions to education. (Submitted on November 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Milestones in Education Marker • <i>wide view<br>(marker visible right of center)</i> image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, October 3, 2019
5. Milestones in Education Marker • wide view
(marker visible right of center)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 27, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Oct. 24, 2021