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Published: April 23rd 2022
Friday was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm, but not hot. Julia drove the three of us over to the Longwood campus at 10:00 a.m. The program began with a talk about the university’s programs, followed by a tour of the campus. Longwood is now a general public university, but was founded in 1839 as a college for women. It became a state teacher’s college in 1884—then called the State Normal School. (Normal School was the usual name for teacher-training colleges in the 19th
century.) The name Longwood was later taken from the 18th
century plantation house that now serves as the university president’s home. The campus is a mix of buildings dating to 1839 together with newly completed Science Building and a new Fitness Center and a Communications/Theatre Arts building under construction.
Not far from here is the R.R. Moton High School historic site. The high school, once on the edge of the town, was the school for African-American students in the time of segregation. In 1951, the students staged a demonstration to protest the overcrowded and substandard conditions at the school. The resulting lawsuit was incorporated into the landmark Brown v. Board of Education anti-segregation case. (Farmville and
Lancaster Hall, Longwood University. Administration building. P1050236p1
Prince Edward County were at the forefront of "massive resistance" to school integration in the 1950s.)
Up the street from the former Norfolk & Western station, one finds the Virginia historical marker for Bizarre. (The state historical marker, dating from 1929, is a vintage item itself!) The marker tells of the existence of this curiously named estate and of the Randolph family that owned it. (It is said that “Bizarre” can also mean in French.) But, it doesn’t tell of the early American scandal that took place there in 1792. Ann Cary, a relative of the Randolph and Jefferson families, had come to live at Bizarre with her sister and brother-in–law, Richard Randolph, a few years earlier. Rumors spread that Ann and Richard were having an affair, seemingly confirmed by her pregnancy. Richard stood trial for murdering the child, but was acquitted for lack of evidence. (Ann later stated she miscarried.) Richard died under mysterious circumstances in 1796 and Ann lived at the house with her sister, under a strained relationship, until 1805. Bizarre burned in 1813. (Ann later married Governour Morris of New York, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.) It is said that “Bizarre” could have
Ruffner Hall, Longwood University. Built in 1839 and gradually expanded along with the school over several decades, to eventually include its iconic rotunda dome, until its completion in 1907. Rebuilt in 2002-2005. Renamed The Rotunda in 2019. P1050244
referred to a root meaning "brave".
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