Urgent Call to Save Carver Nursey School – William Thomas Post #129

 

Carver Nursery School - William Thomas Post #129
Carver Nursery School – William Thomas Post #129

The Carver Nursery School could be demolished as soon as the month of February if the community does not intervene. The school was constructed during World War II through an Act of Congress to fund nursery schools so that parents of children could work in the war effort. The Carver Nursery appears to be the only one built specifically for African Americans. The building consisted of two classrooms with a playground on site. The playground is now the Hunter-Miller Park. Located in the Parker-Gray Neighborhood, the school was in the heart of a thriving Black business area at Queen and Fayette Streets.

The school would later become the William Thomas Post#129 of the American Legion and was the social hub of the neighborhood.

Two and a half years ago, a local developer who then applied for a demolition permit purchased the property. The Parker-Gray Board of Architectural Review and the City Council approved the demolition. The developer has already built eleven houses in the neighborhood and recently put eight condominiums in a former laundry building nearby. The eight condominiums (condos) add character and blend in with the neighborhood. The demolition of the Carver School runs contrary to the purpose of the Parker-Gray Historic District.

Historical Facts:

The Parker-Gray Historic District was created in 1984 and one of its main purposes was to protect the area from development pressures that could arise from the building of the King Street and Braddock Metro Stations. The stations are within blocks of the Carver Nursery School. The plan in 1984 was to nominate the neighborhood for the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the City of Alexandria conducted a survey and at that time, the Carver Nursery School was one of many structures singled out as having contributed character to the neighborhood. The two Parker-Gray Schools had already been demolished. The threat of the demolition of Carver School is a test to the preservation of buildings that have played a part in the history of Black Alexandria. This building is the only known building of its type still existing and was listed on Preservation Virginia’s eleven most endangered properties list of 2010.

Saving Carver Nursery School Building:

There is only one option for saving the building and that is for the City of Alexandria to intervene. Ask the City to temporarily halt the demolition so that the community can have a voice and suggest some alternatives. To help, please e-mail City Council at www3.alexandriava.gov/contactus/mailto.php?id=610.

You can also contact Boyd Walker from the Greater Alexandria Preservation Alliance at Boydwalker2012@gmail.com to get a copy of the petition that is now circulating, and help gather signatures.  Time is running out, so please help us tell the whole story of the Parker-Gray Neighborhood.

Boyd Walker is a community activist who started the Greater Alexandria Preservation Alliance five years ago, to be an advocacy organization for Historic Preservation in Alexandria.  The purpose of the Alliance is to work beyond Alexandria’s borders with state and local partners and to make Alexandria a greater place.  He is a native of Alexandria who grew up on the “Southside.”  He was a co-founder of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, now known as Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront and a recent candidate for Alexandria City Council.

Mr. Lawrence P. Robinson, Alexandria’s Dedicated Photographer and Community Leader

Mr. Lawrence P. Robinson
Mr. Lawrence P. Robinson

Mr. Lawrence (Robbie) P. Robinson migrated to Alexandria in 1968 from Centreville, Virginia. He demitted his membership from the Bull Run Lodge #698 and joined the Alexandria Elks Lodge #48. Robbie had been a member in Bull Run Lodge #698 since 1953. He also became a member of the Alexandria Universal Lodge #1 Free and Accepted Prince Hall Masons as well as a member of the Alexandria Departmental Progressive Club Inc., a private African American club.

Robbie, as his friends fondly called him, immediately advanced through the ranks of these organizations to leadership roles. He implemented educational programs through their Education Departments, and he led several oratorical contest contestants. In each of those organizations, he was elected to the highest level of leadership.

He provided his photography skills to these organizations. Robbie documented the history of those organizations through pictures. His forty-year plus span of photography, he has taken thousands and thousands of pictures of the organizations that he belonged to in Alexandria.

Robbie was born as Lawrence P. Robinson in Centreville, VA in April 1930. He graduated from the Manassas Regional Industrial High School in 1947. His family dates back to James (Gentleman Jim) Robinson, who was born in 1799 as a slave. His master freed Gentleman Jim and he was listed in 1825 as a freed black man. Robbie came from a proud family with a long prospectus history in Prince William and Fairfax, Virginia.

Prior to Mr. Robinson’s migration to Alexandria, Virginia, he was a racecar driver, building his own racecars and engines, winning almost 500 first place trophies. He won the National Hot Rod Association East Coast Championship in E Gas Class (highly modified engines in 1967). He continued for a couple of years competing at racetracks from New York to North Carolina.

He worked for the Federal government at Cameron Station and at the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir, VA prior to his retirement with 50 years of services.

Alexandria’s African American history has been made richer by the dedicated work of Robbie given to the City of Alexandria. He was a member of the first Advisory Board for Charles Houston Recreation Center. Other City boards, Committees or Commissions on which he served were: Alexandria Hospital Finance Committee, Alexandria Health Services Corporation at the Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross, Alexandria Residential Youth Service Board, Alexandria Olympic Boys & Girls Club, Alexandria Young Men’s Christian Association, the Alexandria Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he was elected to serve as the Chairman, Alexandria United Way Allocations Review Panel, Alexandria Forum and Alexandria Concerned Black Citizens. He served on the board of directors of Project Discovery-Alexandria for six years and he is still an honorary member of the board. He continues to be a member of the City of Alexandria Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Planning Committee. He has served for 38 years.

In 2009, Robbie and his wife, Van moved to Prince William County in their new retirement home. At the age of 82 years old, Robbie still comes back to Alexandria and provides his time for the organizations and the City of Alexandria.

Alexandria African American World War I Draft Registrations – Part 4: “D”

Julian Diggs’ World War I Draft Registration Card

During World War I, the United States armed forces remained segregated. Many African Americans registered for the draft as well as served in WWI. Over a quarter of a million African Americans served in WWI. Many of them were relegated to support roles and did not see combat. However, there were some distinguished units among the African American soldiers, for example the 369th Infantry Regiment known as “Harlem Hell fighters,” stayed on the front lines during the war for six months. One-hundred and seventy-one members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Merit.

There were other outstanding African American units that served in WWI”

92nd Infantry Division
•   366th Infantry Regiment
93rd Infantry Division
•   369th Infantry Regiment (“Harlem Hell fighters;” formerly the 15th New York National Guard)
•   370th Infantry Regiment (formerly the 8th Illinois)
•   371st Infantry Regiment
•   372nd Infantry Regiment

A complete list of African American units that served in World War I is in Robert J. Dalessandro’s book “Willing Patriots: Men of Color in the First World War.”

Below are the African American Alexandrians with the “D” surnames.

Dabney, Major – born in 1880
Dabney, William B – born February 12, 1888
Dade, Henry – born April 19, 1881
Dade, Hopson Odell – born August 22, 1898
Davis, Albert – born November 15, 1898
Davis, Booth Royal – born November 11, 1883
Davis, Dewey Otis – born September 19, 1899
Davis, George – born July 19, 1899
Davis, George – born June 4, 1875
Davis, Hal Pauli – born August 13, 1900
Davis, Henry – born June 14, 1888
Davis, Marshall – born March 2, 1877
Davis, Milton Dulaney – born August 31, 1881
Davis, Oscar Blackwell – born March 2, 1876
Davis, Perry Walker – born September 18, 1889
Davis, Thomas – born July 4, 1880
Davis, William – born July 22, 1880
Dawson, Arthur – born October 16, 1897
Dawson, Joe – birth not given
Day, Ferdinand T – born October 27, 1894
Day, Robert W – born September 27, 1888
Dean, Charles – born June 15, 1894
Dean, Clarence – born October 6, 1899
Dean, Washington – born May 5, 1878
Derr, Ralph Mayfield – born September 20, 1897
Diggs, James Henry – born May 8, 1888
Diggs, Julian – born September 30, 1894
Diggs, Richard – born September 10, 1881
Diggs, William Henry – born April 25, 1899
Dinkina, James – born January 18, 1892
Dixon, Edward – born January 18, 1880
Dixon, Ernest – born October 19, 1880
Dixon, Herbert O – born February 2, 1896
Dixon, James Henry – born January 20, 1883
Dixon, John – born April 1, 1880
Dixon, Lucian Odell – born June 27, 1896
Dixon, Moses – born April 16, 1873
Dixon, William – born August 10, 1894
Dobbins, Charles Henry – born December 16, 1877
Dodson, Malachi – born November 2, 1898
Dogan, William Sanford – born October 17, 1875
Dorsey, Vincent – born November 7, 1890
Doss, James Lacey – born December 1, 1893
Douglas, Harrison – born December 8, 1888
Douglas, John Clarence – born November 17, 1899
Drayton, Charles H – born October 25, 1891
Duckett, Joseph DeSilva – born August 29, 1900
Dudley, Benjamin – birth not given
Dudley, Irvine – born November 22, 1889
Dudley, Isham – born May 2, 1896
Dudley, James Samuel – born October 10, 1899
Dudley, Joseph J – born May 7, 1894
Dulaney, Robert – born April 26, 1891
Duncan, Thomas – born June 4, 1897
Duncan, William H – born July 25, 1886

Alexandria African American World War I Draft Registrations – Part 1: A

James Blane Addison
James Blane Addison’s World War I Draft Registration Card

The 17th Century was the beginning of importation of Africans to America. From the beginning of their arrival, they have contributed to America history. They fought in every war. When they became eligible to vote, they supported a presidential candidate that addressed issues affecting their needs.

World War I (WWI) was one of those wars that African Americans were required to register for the Draft. Alexandria, Virginia African Americans registered in large numbers. Many of them served in WWI and they left military records about their lives. Those records became important source of information for the descendants of World War I veterans.

The United States (US) entered WWI in 1917. The war had been going on for about 2½ years prior to the time the US entered. President Woodrow Wilson stayed neutral for the first two years of the war; but a decision by Germany changed the position of the United States. Germany in early 1917 decided to have a submarine warfare on all commercial ships going to Britain. US sent ships to Britain; German submarines attacked those ships. On April 6, 1917, the US declared war on the German Empire.

WWI provided many opportunities for African Americans; one was to fight for their country, another to travel and to migrate from southern cities to seek work in northern factories, and lastly to explore new careers. What WWI did not provide was the abolishment of “Jim Crow” laws and equality for African Americans, and that did not come until after World War II.

Alexandria African Americans like other African Americans in the United States registered for the draft. I will be posting blogs on the Alexandria African Americans draft registration by alphabet. Displayed below are the African American Alexandrians with the “A” surnames.

Addison, James Blane – born October 22, 1884
Agustus, George – born June 10, 1876
Alexander, Bester – born August 14, 1882
Alexander, Charles David – born July 22, 1881
Alexander, David – born June 1891
Alexander, Elijah Haskins – born August 15, 1878
Alexander, Luck – born July 1884
Alexander, Rozier – born 1892
Allen, Clarence Preston – born August 2, 1887
Allen, Frank Carrington – born May 24, 1874
Allen, Washington – born March 16, 1876
Alston, Samuel – born July 20, 1895
Amos, Gilbert Waldin – born December 21, 1872
Anderson, Clarence – born August 15, 1881
Anderson, Clifton – born January 22, 1889
Anderson, Frank – born March 13, 1885
Anderson, Henry – born September 1, 1895
Anderson, Walter – born September 30, 1893
Anthony, Marcus – born May 22, 1873
Arnold, Lloyd Montgomery – January 17, 1894
Arnold, William Lawrence – born August 6, 1885
Arrington, James – born March 17, 1880
Ashby, Robert Mathew – born May 9, 1874
Ashton, Edward Walter – born December 19, 1898
Augustus, Clarence – born January 17, 1900

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