WASHINGTON — A historic one-room schoolhouse in Loudoun County, Virginia, that served generations of African American children has been spray-painted with racist messages, including a swastika.
The vandalism to the Old Ashburn Schoolhouse was discovered Saturday morning. The building is undergoing historic restoration in a fundraising project led by students and teachers from the Loudoun School for the Gifted.
“Students have been walking by, they’re brokenhearted, teachers are brokenhearted because they’ve invested so much time and effort,” said Deep Sran, founder and principal of the Loudoun School for the Gifted.
Old Ashburn Schoolhouse educated black children from 1892 to 1950, when the little schoolhouse was heated by a wood-burning stove and segregated education was the rule in some states including Virginia. Money has been raised to restore the 124-year-old school through a variety of efforts including bake sales and a GoFundMe page.
Thanks to the students’ fundraising, donations from vendors and the efforts of the community, the ramshackle building’s decrepit foundation was shored up and the modest building was given new windows.
“We just took the boards off a week ago and we were so excited because sun was coming through the windows,” Sran said.
Now the phrase “white power,” swastikas, crude drawings and profanities are among the defacement spray-painted in red and blue on the humble building.
“The vandalism to the Old Ashburn School is reprehensible and will not be tolerated here in Loudoun County,” said Sheriff Mike Chapman.
Sran said the school is ready to get back on track.
“We’re going to actually try to speed up the restoration, just to make the point that this is not something that’s going to dissuade us from doing what needs to be done,” Sran said.
“A school like that tells us how far we’ve come and for that purpose it’s critical to save it,” he said.
In November, the Loudoun School for the Gifted plans to break ground on a new building a few hundred yards from the historic schoolhouse. The school plans to use the old schoolhouse as a meeting place, where classes can be held and the public welcomed to see a part of Loudoun history.
“We’re going to redouble our efforts,” Sran said.