Oakton Schoolhouse to Unveil Interpretive Markers
Ceremony will honor Oakton's education history Saturday
The Fairfax County Park Authority and Hunter Mill Defense League will honor Oakton's education history with the unveiling of interpretive markers at Oakton Schoolhouse on Saturday.
While the guest list will include county officials, such as Supervisor Linda Smyth (Providence) and park authority board members, it will also include the great-granddaughter of Oakton's first official schoolteacher.
Anna Pauline "Pat" Price, 86, will stand with one of her sons 10 a.m. Saturday as speakers recount the history of the Oakton Schoolhouse, which dates back to 1897, and its two predecessors.
The first schoolhouse, known as Flint Hill School, opened in 1851 when 18-year-old Mary Holland Bell, Price's great-grandmother, taught the first class. It was located near where the private school by the same name now stands at the intersection of Jermantown and Chain Bridge roads.
"She was quite the lady, very progressive," said Price, who has an insight into her great-grandmother's personality through a diary she wrote at the age of 72. "She did yoga. I didn't even know people did yoga back then. She also meditated regularly. And all while keeping busy in the home and on their farm."
The schoolhouse burned shortly after the Civil War, though a portion of the original basement still remains.
A second schoolhouse, the town's first public school, was built around 1874 at the corner of Hunter Mill and Chain Bridge roads. In 1897, the building was moved and turned into a residence on Jermantown Road.
The third schoolhouse, the Oakton Schoolhouse now standing in Oakton Community Park, was also built at the corner of Hunter Mill and Chain Bridge roads. It served as a schoolhouse until 1912, then became a general store. Later, Appalachian Outfitters bought the space along with the many renovations and additions made over the years. In 2007, the building was moved to its current site and restored to its original appearance.
The markers are two of many along the Hunter Mill Corridor, most of which members of HMDL secured over recent years in honor of the area's rich history — most of which is tied to the Civil War because the corridor served as a major roadway for both Union and Confederate armies.
"This was one of the earliest schools in the county," said Steve Hull, chairman of the HMDL history committee. "It's difficult to ascertain which exactly was the first, but this was certainly one of them. It's important to acknowledge that."
Plans are already in place to convert the field next to the schoolhouse into a soccer field, albeit no time table is yet attached to the project, and Hull believes that will open up opportunities for the schoolhouse to be a community gathering place.
"At some point the building becomes a place for things like community meetings. Some stewardship needs to be established and upgrades need to be done to the building but we see it as a great way to preserve a little bit of community history and serve the community at the same time," Hull said.
The interpretive markers will be unveiled 10 a.m. Saturday at Oakton Schoolhouse, 2841 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton.