Built in 1887 as a 16-classroom, two-story, Italianate “open air” school, the Moore Street School is the oldest surviving public school purpose-built for Black students in the City of Richmond. In the early-20th century, Europe and the U.S. saw the rise of “open air” schools intended to create healthy environments to combat tuberculosis using the principles of sanatoria. Sometimes purpose-built, and sometimes converted spaces, open air schools provided fresh air and extra nutrition for at-risk youth. In 1951, Moore Street School became Carver Elementary when an addition was built on Leigh Street to become the new front. (Carver Elementary is now at 1110 W. Leigh Street)
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Virginia Landmarks Register, the Moore Street School not only reflects the larger story of public education in Richmond, but also is socially and culturally important to the Carver neighborhood.
Threat: The Moore Street School has been vacant for at least fifteen years. A plan was developed for the school building in 2005, but was not carried through. The school could be demolished if a suitable restoration plan is not developed soon.
Solution: The Moore Street School Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to saving the Moore Street School, is interested in acquiring the school for a community performing arts training center and event space. The foundation has raised over $200,000 toward that end. If the Richmond School Board has no plans or further use for the school, they should consider transferring ownership to the foundation to make the school a vibrant and useful building for the community once again.
The Moore Street School was placed on VIrginia's Most Endangered Historic Places List in 2023.