Whitetop, VA: Conceptual Redevelopment Plan for the Mount Rogers School and Conceptual Site Master Plan

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Virginia Tech. Community Design Assistance Center

The original four-room Mount Rogers Combined School was built around 1932 in Whitetop, which was mainly a farming community settled in the early 1800s. The 2,200 square foot building sits on approximately 5 acres of land and included grades one through eleven. The exterior of the original portion of the school is uniquely constructed from tumbled rocks. It is believed that the rocks were pulled in by horse and sled from a nearby creek. When the school opened, there were four teachers with an enrollment of somewhere between 80 and 100 students.

Today, the building is unoccupied. Though the original rock-portion of the school is in relatively good condition, the 1950s addition is in poor condition. There are a number of roof leaks in the 1950s addition that have caused substantial structure damage and environmental hazards such as black mold. The extent of damage to the 1950s addition requires that it be demolished.

Given its structural integrity, historical architectural significance, and its contributions to the cultural heritage of the Grayson County/Whitetop community, there is interest in redeveloping the original rock portion of the school. This design process provides the community with a graphic vision for the redevelopment of the remaining structure.

There has been discussion among community leaders and community members that the Mount Rogers School, once redeveloped, would be an ideal facility to leverage various tourism, outdoor recreation, and cultural heritage attractions that are nearby. Some of these include Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain (Virginia’s first and second highest mountains), Whitetop folk festivals, traditions and celebrations associating with the growing/harvesting of Christmas trees, and Grayson Highlands State Park. In addition, there is a growing relationship between Grayson County and West Jefferson, NC that creates the potential for a community partnership surrounding outdoor tourism.

The Community Design Assistance Center worked with a Stakeholders Committee to develop a conceptual redevelopment plan for the Mount Rogers School and ~5-acre property.

community design, community engagement, interior design, landscape architecture