This episode contains portions of an interview with Judge Perry Sarver from 2002. Judge Sarver was a well-respected attorney and judge that resided in Strasburg from 1962 until his death in 2006. Judge Sarver shares about local businesses in the Strasburg Community, the "Liberty Trees" project sponsored by the local chapter of the Jaycees, why he chose to reside in Strasburg, and how he began his law career. Check out more stories and information about the Strasburg Community by visiting the Strasburg Heritage Association website.
Rochella Strother and the late Elizabeth Alsberry share stories from when they attended Sunset Hill School. The first school for Strasburg’s African American population was called the Queen Street School and was located at the end of West Queen Street.
That building housed grades 1-7 until 1929 when it burned. A new school, called Sunset Hill Colored School was built with the support of the local African American Community including the “Strasburg Colored Elks.” Students continued to complete their elementary education in this building. Anyone wishing to attend High School was bused to Frederick Douglas School in Winchester. The county did not provide free transportation until the 1950s. This trip discouraged many from completing their education.
Life at Sunset Hill was often difficult. Until the 1950s, there were no indoor restrooms or water fountains. Students brought their own lunches since there was no cafeteria. Heat was provided by a stove that was stoked by students. Books had to be bought and were usually second-hand books from the white schools.
However, the education program provided by African American teachers was very intense. These teachers and the members of the community were determined to provide their children with the type of education they needed to be successful. Many wanted to show their kids, and the white children in the community could be equally successful. This meant discipline was strict, expectations were high, and community involvement in the school program was a given.
Shenandoah County continued to operate segregated schools until 1964 when the last of the county’s 100 African American students were given permission by the state to attend the white schools. Sunset Hill School closed that year and is today used for storage.
There is a Sunset Hill Alumni group that is working on keeping the history of the school alive. A historical roadside marker commemorating Sunset Hill School was dedicated and unveiled on November 14, 2020.
Check out more stories and information about the Strasburg Community by visiting the Strasburg Heritage Association website.
Listen to stories from people that attended movies and events in the Strand Theater which was located in downtown Strasburg, VA back in the 1930s through the 1950s. The building today is the home of the Box Office Brewery. Visit our Strasburg Heritage Association website to find more folk stories and historical information about our community.
Listen to Kathy Kehoe, the author of this Folk History from the Strasburg Heritage Association Fall 2009 Newsletter, share stories and facts about this iconic restaurant that used to reside on King St. in Strasburg, Virginia.