Then and Now – The Buildings at 57 East Broad Way

The Lovettsville Historical Society is pleased to announce our partnership with the Town of Lovettsville to provide snippets of Lovettsville history for their Throwback Thursday (TBT) Facebook posts. A theme that will run frequently is “Then and Now” – information and a photo about a place or item from Lovettsville’s past and what it looks like today. We launched our TBT partnership with a series from Mike Zapf about the schools and community center at present-day 57 East Broad Way. Many of the posts are from this story written by Mike. Follow the Town of Lovettsville’s Facebook page at

Lovettsville, Virginia, ca 1900, School for white children established 1886.

The picture above, of the schoolhouse and today’s Broad Way looking East, was probably taken around 1900 from somewhere between Locust Street and Frye Court.  The building on the left with the belfry is the Lovettsville School for white students.  The original one-acre plot of land was located on the rise, “Red Hill”, at the junction of Lovettsville Road and Mill Town Road.   The dark building silhouetted on the right is the town icehouse.  Local residents, Peter Wire and his wife, deeded it to the School Board of Lovettsville in November 1886.

Houses that currently line East Broadway were built in the 1930s and 40s and dubbed “Retirement Avenue”.

Lovettsville School with addition

In 1910 the community expanded the school with the wood framed addition seen in the picture below to accommodate high school requirements.  By the mid-1920s, the old building was woefully inadequate for a high school curriculum.  It had a small laboratory that did not meet the needs of education and was described as “a fire trap and a menace to the life of the children.”

Lovettsville School (Elementary and High School)

At a meeting of the School Board in November 1926, the Board voted to authorize the construction of a new building of about 8 rooms with auditorium as well as borrow $37,500 from the Literary Fund and other monies as needed.  The matter was then put to the voter in a public forum.  The forum, attended by 86 people, approved the Board’s decision and the loans unanimously.  Construction of was under contract by March 1927.  Ten years later a three-room addition of brick and tile was built.  Glenn Grove in “The Way It Was, a Reminisce of Lovettsville” wrote: “In the early 1930s it was not unusual to have a graduating class only numbering in the single digits.  The class of ’42 of which I was a member only consisted of twenty-one and that was the largest class to that date” . . .” Many walked quite a few miles to school . . .I remember when some came to school in buggies, some on horseback and some on bicycles.  There used to be a stable on the school ground east of the present swimming pool.”  The school paper was “The Red Hill Gazette.”  By 1939, acreage for the school had increased from one to 4.5 acres.  Enrollment had also increased from 30 to 70, and faculty numbered 11.

The school operated as both the elementary and high school through 1954. Until that time, there were four high schools in Loudoun County: Lovettsville, Leesburg, Lincoln and Aldie.   In 1954 high school education was consolidated at the high school in Leesburg and the Lovettsville School operated as the Elementary School through 1974 when the current Elementary School on Loudoun Street opened.  Loudoun County Parks and Recreation converted the old school into the Community Recreation Center.

The Teacherage

The “Teacherage”, constructed in 1922 at 55 West Broadway was part of the Lovettsville educational establishment.  It still stands as a private residence at 55 East Broadway, the house with the bright blue window shutters.  It was used as the residence of the principal and lodging for unmarried faculty.  School Principal L. A. Womeldorph resided there from 1921-1954.

The 1976 Fire

A nine-alarm fire on the night of the 17th of November 1976 gutted the Lovettsville Community Center.  There were no fatalities or injuries.  A campaign started almost immediately to raise funds to rebuild the community center.  The Community Center was restored on the site using salvageable portions of the old school structure.

Lovettsville restored Community Center 1976-2021

The restored Community Center served the recreational needs of the citizens of Lovettsville until 2021 when construction began on a new Community Center on the site followed by the demolition of the walls and foundation of the 1927 Lovettsville School.

The decision to demolish and replace the Community Center was and still is a subject of bitter resentment and debate in Lovettsville and among alumni of the old Lovettsville High School.  Although fire had destroyed the front portion of the building in 1976 and a new façade was built which changed the outside appearance, some of the old classrooms were still there and intact.  In 2012-13, Loudoun County officials decided in favor of demolition and new construction, as opposed to renovation and preservation of the old building, despite an overwhelming vote for renovation in a 2007 bond-issue referendum. 

New Lovettsville Community Center, 2023


Many thanks to Lori Hinterleiter Kimball, the Glenn L. Grove estate, The Edwin Washington Project, The Loudoun Times Mirror and the Lovettsville Historical Society for information, narrative and pictures contributing to this article.