Bedford Training School and Susie G. Gibson High School listed on the National Register of Historic Places
On August 17, 2021, the National Park Service officially listed Bedford Training School and Susie G. Gibson High School on the National Register of Historic Places. Both properties were listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register on June 17, 2021. Both schools welcomed African-American students during the segregation era. Bedford Training School, Bedford County’s first public school built specifically to provide secondary education to black students, was designed using plans from the School Buildings Division of the Virginia Department of Education; Susie G. Gibson High School, built in 1953-54 to provide a “separate but equal” education to black high school students in Bedford County, was designed by eminent Lynchburg architect Stanhope Johnson and named in honor of longtime Bedford educator and Supervisor Jeanes, Susie G. Gibson (1878-1949). Full application forms can be viewed at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/141-5019/ and https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/141-5017/
The National Registry List is an honorary designation that recognizes significant historic places across the country and qualifies landowners to pursue various federal and state incentives, including tax credits, to aid preservation initiatives, heritage tourism and the economic development.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and neighborhoods worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archeology, and culture. The National Registry was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to ensure that as a matter of public policy, properties significant in national, state and local history are taken into account in the planning of federal undertakings, and to encourage historical preservation initiatives by the State and local communities and the private sector.
The state and national registry designations for the two schools, one of the high priority action items emerging from the community’s recent ‘school-to-school planning project’, were initiated by the Bedford Historical Society and included broad public participation in a long and detailed research process. , interpretation, funding and approval of sites and their significance in local, state and national history and architecture. The preliminary information forms were prepared by Michael Pulice, Mary Zirkle and Betty Lambeth Gereau.
Bedford County received a cost-sharing grant, approved by the Board of Supervisors and approved by the Bedford County School Board, Virginia Department of Historical Resources to pay for the professional preparation of the final nomination forms. The required local matching funds of 50% were provided by the Bedford Historical Society, the Susie G. Gibson Alumni Association and interested citizens. Hill Studio’s architectural history and preservation specialists began final forms in late fall 2020 and concluded with a presentation to the Board of Historic Resources and State Review Board in June 2021.
The Bedford Historical Society expresses its sincere gratitude to the many individuals and institutions who participated in the nomination process, including research and technical services. They include: Susie G. Gibson Alumni Association; Susie G. Gibson Legacy, Inc .; City of Bedford Economic Development Office and municipal staff; staff of Bedford County Public Schools and the Bedford County School Board; the staff of the Susie G. Gibson Science and Technology Center; Bedford County staff and the Bedford County Board of Directors; Virginia Department of Historic Resources: Michael Pulice, Architectural Historian, and Blake McDonald, Cost-Sharing Grants Officer; Studio of the hill; Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library; Bedford Public Library; Library of Virginia; Jones Memorial Library; alumni of Susie G. Gibson High School; Bedford Bulletin; Members of the Bedford Historical Society and other interested citizens who donated to the grant matching funds.
Note: There are several projects underway relating specifically to the former Susie G. Gibson High School, including the restoration of the school name on February 6, 2020 by the Bedford County School Board to maintaining “Susie G. Gibson Science &” Technology Center ”; a special portrait of the Bedford educator unveiled on June 5, 2021 at the school; an upcoming exhibit on the history and memories of Gibson High School on site; and a soon-to-be-installed historic Virginia road marker in honor of Susie G. Gibson. For more information on these projects, contact Susie G. Gibson Legacy, Inc. (434-299-5563) or the Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library (540-586-4520).