Mapping School Street

Imagine, you live on School Street in the 1960s. You leave your house to check the mail and find a letter stating that the nearby college is looking to buy your property and would like you to consider the proposal over the next 60 days. How would you feel?

This may have been the reality for some School Street residents. As it turns out, homes were sold to different buyers. Other properties, however, remained in the hands of their owners who seemed to have refused to entertain any offers from the Board of Control for George Mason College Land Acquisitions or area real estate agents.

Below is an example of a letter that may have been addressed to people living in the School Street neighborhood. More research is required to discover what happened after a recipient opened an envelope from the Board of Control for George Mason College Land Acquisitions with notification of "necessary and preliminary actions to acquire additional land."  Did the School Street resident call the "designated Coordinator" to set up an appointment with a "Member of the Appraisal Institute"?  The answer may shed light on the history of a Black community right next door to GMU.



Board of Control for George Mason College Land Acquisition

George Mason College

 4400 University Drive

Fairfax, Virginia


Dear ______________________________:


The Board of Control for Land Acquisition for George Mason College is presently undertaking necessary preliminary actions to acquire additional land for the College as jointly authorized by the Counties of Arlington and Fairfax and Falls Church.

In the process of planning for expansion of the College certain properties that are either contiguous, adjacent, or close to the existing site will be considered for purchase. A determination will subsequently be made as to the exact parcels of land that will be requires for site expansion.

To assist the Board of Control in its selection of property to expand George Mason College, an appraisal of the property under consideration is presently being conducted by Mr. Guy C. McGee, a Member of Appraisal Institute. It is estimated this appraisal will be completed about May 1, 1967 and will serve to provide the basis for subsequent actions by the Board to designate the area for College acquisition and to acquire the property deemed necessary.

An examination of land parcels indicate that you are the owner of ____________________________________. This area is being considered for inclusion in the College land acquisition program. Sometime within the next 60 days you may be contacted and requested to discuss the sale of your property.

To provide a vehicle to administer the land acquisition program the Board of Control has designated a Coordinator to serve as a central and permanent clearing point for the property owners. If I can be of any assistance or provide you with additional information, please call me at 703-591-4600, George Mason College, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Virginia.


Very Truly yours,

R.H Pierce

Coordinator and Clerk of the Board



Above is an example of an appraisal report found in the John C Wood Papers of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, George Mason University. Wood was mayor of Fairfax.  The appraisal reports are undated but likely generated before 1967. Virginia Williams is being used as the model.

A map folder contained a picture of School St that shows the individual parcels of land on a 1979 tax map.  A color coded guide, below, provides the names of owners. The next set of maps are interactive. Each toggle point has a name with appraisal information from the GMC Board of Control.  The bottom map shows where these selected properties are today. The accounting sheet reveals that not all of the appraised School Street properties were actually acquired.

Make sure to click on the maps to see the appraisal reports.

Property Acquisitions Accounting Sheet

School Street properties actually acquired on the bottom.

1979 Property Map for Square 57-4 With Colored Parcels

This map was created by staff of the Virginia Room in the Fairfax Public Library.  Elaine McRey facilitated access to this resource.

Tax Map Guide:

The yellow properties belonged to Hilda Winston and Georgia Chambers. 

The blue property belonged to John Martin. 

The green parcels were owned by Hattie Carter, Lester H. Page, Stephen J.Payne, Lewis Morarity, Methodist Church and Bradshaw Groomes.

The orange parcels were part of Gateway Fairfax; they were sold by the Fairfax County Redevelopment Authority to the developer. This includes the property originally owned by Lewis Morarity’s mother. 

By Sydney-Alexandria Hardy

Mapping assistance from Anne Dobberteen

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