The Vale Schoolhouse, at the corner of Vale and Fox Mill Roads in Oakton, Virginia, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. The National Register, administered by the National Park Service, is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. The property is listed as the Vale School/Community House, a name which reflects its two worthy periods of significance.
The building’s earliest period of significance, dating from 1884 to 1931, is easily understood by motorists passing through this heavily wooded section of western Fairfax County. Built as a one-room school about 1884, the white building with its bell tower, served the needs of the small farming community known as Vale. The second room was added in 1912 as the community grew. The school closed in 1931 when the Fairfax County School Board began closing small schools and bussing children to larger, consolidated schools. The National Park Service deemed the property to be of local significance for its architecture because it is the best preserved example of a two-room schoolhouse in Fairfax County.
The second period of significance, dating from 1935 to 1960, is not always evident to the casual passersby. In 1935, the women of the Vale community petitioned the School Board to allow them to convert the abandoned school into a Community House. By 1938, these women, members of the Vale Home Demonstration Club, had raised enough money to purchase the property. During this period, the Vale Community House was bustling with activities, including: community sings, oyster suppers, a lending library, Vale Club meetings, Grange meetings, 4-H activities and summer programs for children and teens. The National Register lists Vale Community House as being significant on the local level for its role in social history.
The Vale Schoolhouse, however, is also listed as being significant on the state level because of the contributions made by the founder of Vale Club, Florence Jodzies. Mrs. Jodzies, an excellent speaker and writer, campaigned for better living conditions in rural communities, including the need for improved roads, indoor plumbing, and access to recreational facilities and public libraries. In 1936, as State Library Chairman of the Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs, she developed the Federation’s Library Project to bring books, magazines, and literature to rural Virginians. Designed to "bring improvement of mind and refreshment of soul" to members and their communities, by 1938 her ideas were adopted by Home Demonstration Clubs throughout Virginia.
Today, the schoolhouse is owned and maintained by Vale Club members through the Club’s 501(c)(3) charity, Friends of Vale Schoolhouse, Inc. Many longstanding traditions established by the early Home Demonstration Club are still practiced: holding monthly meetings, hosting an annual fall fair and other neighborhood events, allowing the schoolhouse to be used for community meetings, helping community members in need, and, of course, raising money for the upkeep of their much-loved building. In 2009 Vale Club proudly celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Vale Home Demonstration Club and 75 continuous years of membership.
Vale School & Community House: A gallery of annotated photographs.
Vale School/Community House Historical Highway Marker
Florence Jodzies State Historical Highway Marker
“75 Years in Vale” by Patricia Strat. San Francisco: Blurb. 2010
Vale School/Community House National Register Nomination