- District would honor Stratford School’s history as first Virginia public school to desegregate as well as exceptional International School architecture
- Jointly developed guidelines would be responsive to changing needs of student population
The Arlington County Board today said it will collaborate with Arlington Public Schools to develop designation language and design guidelines for pursuit of local historic district designation of the Stratford Building. This action parallels the School Board’s Dec. 8 action.
“There is perhaps no building in Arlington more worthy of historic designation than Stratford — both for the seminal events that occurred there in 1959 and the unique architecture of the building. I am delighted that the County and School Boards will continue our close collaboration at this school site.” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “We know how important efficiently achieving an expanded, much-needed neighborhood Stratford middle school is to the community. Our collaboration will allow us to do that while also preserving the building made famous on Feb. 2, 1959, when it became the first public school in the Commonwealth to be racially integrated.”
The County Board voted 5-0 to direct the County Manager to negotiate an agreement with the Schools Superintendent on both the parameters of a Stratford local historic district, and design guidelines to govern the district.
These concise design guidelines should “balance the importance of honoring the events of 1959 with the School Board’s ongoing obligation to respond to the changing needs of its student population without delay and within available funding limits,” the Board said in the adopted motion. The motion identifies statements — drawn from the existing state and federal historic designations – that will form the basis for the design guidelines.
In addition, the two Boards agreed to set aside, for the Stratford building, the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the County, Arlington Public Schools (APS) and Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) regarding the designation of APS properties as local historic districts. In that MOU, the County Board delegated to the HALRB the Board’s authority to consider historic designation for County schools.
“The actions taken by both Boards balance the need to honor Stratford’s special history with the need for more seats for students,” said Hynes.
The County Board also specified that it will consider the adoption of an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, to provide that any subsequent applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness regarding the Stratford School local historic district — if the site is so designated — will be granted or denied by the County Board, with advice from HALRB. The Zoning Ordinance amendment will be considered by the County Board prior to or concurrent with its decision on the Stratford School property as a local historic district.