RPS: A Mini History: Bits & Pieces

Much of the history of the Richmond Public Schools was recorded in the context of a segregated society, and the reader should readily discern between pre- and post-desegregation observations. The terms "black," "colored," "Negro," and "white" in this booklet should not be considered offensive as they have been used according to the custom of the particular period. Since 1962, the division has omitted such racial designations from its reports and publications.

Bellevue School 2401 East Grace Street (Grace Street between 23rd & 24th Streets)

This school replaced old Bellevue which had been named for Bellevue Hospital. The site was once the home of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Southerner who carried out Union espionage work during the Civil War. The cornerstone was laid on January 21, 1913, with Masonic ceremonies.

Bellevue opened during the 1913-14 session as an elementary school with pupils transferred from old Bellevue; in September 1915, it was converted into Bellevue Junior High School. It reverted to an elementary school in September 1919 (with the opening of East End Junior High School) and continued until June 1955. At that time, the pupils were allowed "as much leeway as possible" to choose among Helen Dickinson, Chimborazo, and Nathaniel Bacon schools. In September 1955, Bellevue became a school for Negro pupils.

In 1975, due to a fire at Bellevue, the program was temporarily relocated to Mosby. The school was scheduled for closure in June 1975, because the coal-fired furnaces did not meet the provisions of the Clean Air Act of 1970. This decision was reversed, and the program was housed at Bowler while Bellevue was being renovated in 1975-77 (furnace replacement, cafeteria and kitchen repairs, and fire damage repairs). During that same period, Bellevue was used by Whitcomb Court School when it had to be vacated due to detection of methane gas in the immediate area. In 1977, in appreciation for the school 's return to the area, the Church Hill Association donated funds to improve Bellevue's playground facilities.

In 1980, Bellevue was one of eight elementary school renovation projects.

Since 1971, Bellevue has operated as a model elementary school with an open enrollment policy; the curriculum stresses academic achievement with a "performing and visual arts" theme.

Enrollment: 1914-1915 1,000 (elementary)
  1915-1916 1,024 (junior high)
  1928-1929 939 (final junior high)
  1929-1930 297 (elementary)
  June 1955 240 (final white)
  Sept. 1955 870
  1985-1986 400
  1991-1912 415
Architect:   Charles M. Robinson
  1980 Renovation SWA Partnership
Cost:   $110,000
  1975-77 Renovation 500,000 (approx.)
  1980 Renovation 320,486
Principals: 1914-1921 Ernest Shawen
  1921-1929 Algar Woolfolk
  1929-1946 J.D. Harris
  1946-1955 Winston Carter Bleight
  1955-1958 Helbert Harrison Allen (acting 1955-56)
  1958-1971 General John Johnson
  1971-1978 Russell Grant Harris, Jr.
  1978--1979 Barbara Radcliffe Grey
  1979-1993 Sylvia D. Richardson