Bluff Point celebrates Centennial
Northumberland County hasn’t always had the gorgeously engineered consolidated schools it has now.
At the turn of the 19th century the county’s school system included 44 small, local schools. Bluff Point Graded School, opened in 1913, was one of them, and for the time, it was right up to date.
It had two, rather than one, school rooms and an artesian well from which one of its students recalled to Suzy Swift and Helen Braatz she had the first drink of water she’d ever had from other than a shallow bucket well. The two school rooms were important because they allowed the first through third grades to meet in one and the fourth through seventh grades to meet in the other.
The school had grades one through seven and served a six square mile area around it. Students walked to school along wooded paths and even took boats across streams to get to classes. One former student, Margie Hurst Butler, recalled a day that the students had to walk through deep snow to reach school but the teacher never showed up. Braatz and Swift said that Butler described the students conducting school for themselves that day.
Even though Bluff Point School #3 closed in the early 1930s, it’s still a focal point of the community, used for gatherings every year and maintained by the Bluff Point Community League.
Saturday, the league will celebrate the school’s centennial with speakers, book signings by local authors and displays provided by the Northumberland Historical Society, the Kilmarnock Museum, the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, the Steamboat Era Museum, the Northern Neck Farm Museum and the Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library. There will also be school memorabilia and period pieces on display and activities for children.
Braatz and Swift did a great deal of the work involved in having the school declared a Northern Neck Historical Site. In their notes about the school, they pointed out that it wasn’t the school’s age, so much as its architecture and importance in the development of the community that won it the designation from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m. To reach the school, turn onto Bluff Point Road (Route 608) and continue about two and a half miles to the school,