Botetourt County dedicates historic Black school with marker in Fincastle

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 10:01 PM EDT
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FINCASTLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Botetourt County is remembering and dedicating a historic Black school in the community. Though it closed several decades ago, the story of Academy Hill School will continue to be told.

”A lot of people don’t know about our history,” former student Leroy Worrelal said. “This is one of the greatest things, I think, about our history.”

It’s been 65 years since Worrelal attended Academy Hill School, Botetourt County’s first African American school. He explained seeing the school dedicated with a historic marker on Wednesday brings him right back to 1958.

“We had outdoor bathrooms, we didn’t have no running water,” Worrelal said. “I had to get up every morning and ride from a mile away, I had to pass Lord Botetourt High School to come over here because it was segregated at the time.”

Historic Fincastle Incorporated (HFI) started the project to commemorate the school building, which sits on top of the hill off Main Street. HFI’s president explained the sign was placed to be more visible in the community.

“There’s a lot of traffic on Main Street and there is an area where you can pull over since it’s one way now,” Lynne Bolton said. “What a perfect way for people to read the sign and look up onto the hill and realize what they’re looking at.”

The former school house is now an apartment complex, but it’s history is still preserved in the community.

“Our Black community is so important, it’s an integral part of Fincastle and Botetourt County and their history is important and this is an important aspect of history,” Bolton said.

Academy Hill is a story that will be told for generations to come.

“This is amazing,” Worreal said. “I’m so glad that we have got the marker.”