The Fort Hill School was built in 1919 by Campbell County and was annexed by Lynchburg City in 1926. The original building had a capacity of 300 and was built at a cost of $36,643.00. It was designed by Pendleton S. Clark, who also designed E. C. Glass High School. The ceramic wainscoting in the hallways and the windows at both buildings shared a common resemblance. In 1950 a single story addition with a capacity of 120 was completed at a cost of $96,125.00. The school was operated by Lynchburg City Schools until the 1970s. The original building was destroyed in 1975.
After the building was no longer used as a school, it was managed by Lynchburg Department of Public Works. Several private schools and church groups leased the building until 2009, when federal stimulus money (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) was used to remodel the building. The Homebound Learning Center and the Middle School Learning Center, which had been located at a Hollins Mill Road location, moved into the building, along with the 8th grade program from the Amelia Pride Center, in January, 2010. Those three programs merged to become the current Fort Hill Community School.
Two Fort Hill Community School teachers, Rhonda Dodson Stephens (1962-1969) and Tracie Wooldridge Hayes (1966-1971), attended the former Fort Hill School. Rhonda and Tracie both have fond memories of the old school. They remember the walkway between the two-story building and the current building, and the school cafeteria. They tell us about teachers who were stern but caring, and they say their days spent at the school were good days. Rhonda has saved several pieces of concrete and brick from the original building, along with originals of Manners Can Be Fun and The Music Hour. She also has an original of the 1971 Fort Hill Handbook and has shared these keepsakes with the school; they are on exhibit in the Marsh Library. (John and Bonnie Marsh are neighbors who have donated many beautiful books from their library to the school.)
Lillian Martin Campbell, who taught fifth grade at the school (1952-1959), remembered that Dr. Paul Munro was the division superintendent. She told us that Dr. Munro would often visit schools and observe teachers. She said that when teachers entered the front door and saw a hat sitting on the table in the hallway, they knew that Dr. Munro was in the building. Mrs. Campbell also remembered that desks were bolted to the floor and that they had ink wells carved into them so students could use pens and ink from their desks to write their assignments. She said that teachers were allowed to administer medicine to students who were ill and that teachers kept ear drops sitting on the radiators in each room so the drops would be warm to use in the students' ears when they had an earache. The Lynchburg City Schools community suffered a great loss when Mrs. Campbell died in December, 2011. We extend our sympathy to her family.
The students and staff of Fort Hill Community School are proud for the school to again be a part of the community. Community members and school staff participate in the National Neighborhood Night Out program each fall, read the same books, and have become good neighbors and friends. The staff at Fort Hill Community School is looking forward to adding to the school’s rich history.