A Tale of Two Schools

Logistically, it does not make much sense to build two elementary schools less than a half a mile away from each other. However, in the 1950s it apparently made perfect sense to white Virginia administrators of education, if the goal was to separate school children by the color of their skin. Eleven Oaks Elementary and Green Acres Elementary were two schools serving the same residential neighborhood during the period of legal segregation.  Located within sight of the future Fairfax campus of George Mason College, Eleven Oaks was designated by the Commonwealth of Virginia to serve Black people. Green Acres, in contrast, only welcomed white residents. 

After the US Supreme Court's Brown v Board Education decision (1954), racial integration in schools was mandated.  Thereafter, Green Acres operated as a neighborhood school for many years and then transitioned to being a community center.  Eleven Oaks transformed into administrative offices that were finally torn down in 2007 to make way for another property. Although no longer standing, Eleven Oaks survives in the memories of its students.  There is a street named after it.  Below a clip from an oral history interview with Ms. Sheila Lewis, a student who attended Eleven Oaks, recounts her life as a segregated public school pupil in 1950s Virginia.  This interview was conducted on 29 July 2021 by GMU undergraduate researcher, Rachel Amon, the author of this exhibit.

This 1966 boundary map shows the proximity of Eleven Oaks and Green Acres. Just below the Eleven Oaks location is the site claimed by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for its new northern branch called George Mason College.

This 1981 map portrays the boundary of Green Acres, which touched the property of Eleven Oaks before desegregation. Built in 1961, Green Acres was located south of the current green acres housing development[1].

This image depicts a hallway of Green Acres Elementary, with a welcoming mural. 

Green Acres, Parks and Recreation

A parks and recreation center and community center stand on the old Green Acres site. 

Rosenwald Ln, and Eleven Oaks street

This street sign is located in a housing development across from the University Drive entrance to George Mason University. The property was built on land where the Rosenwald School and Eleven Oaks Elementary stood. Street signs named after these schools also exist.

Authors: Rachel Amon, Alexis Massenburg

[1] Fairfax County Green Acres Feasibility Committee, Green Acres Feasibility Study: Final Report (Fairfax: Fairfax County Green Acres Feasibility Study Committee, 2016).

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