Day 4: Thursday
On Thursday, we went digging into the archives in the library. We went looking through a lot of photos, starting in the 1920s and ending in the 1980s. We found a map from the 1940s detailing the layout of the school including buildings soon to be demolished and their master campus plan for the future as of yet. We found a handbook that detailed all of the purposes and descriptions of the buildings around 1955 on the campus. Next, we found some aerial view photos from the 1950s showing the buildings on the campus at this time. We also discovered photos from the 1920′s-1940′s of Fox/Hound played right in front of Porch house. The pictures showed everything from March In to the big game played on the lawn. Coincidentally, we found that the outfits, banners, and overall look of the game weren’t much different than those of today.
After rummaging through the archives, our last part of the day was meeting with Ms. Leipheimer to talk about stories from her past 45 years at Foxcroft, beginning as an English teacher, and a new bride of two weeks, in 1968. We learned more about the history behind Brick House and the fire that burnt down the original Covert in 1933. We discussed the different reactions of alumnae and former families and friends when they found out their favorite buildings had been demolished, such as the Porch House, old Infirmary, old Orchard, Cook House, and old Stables.
We also talked about how Mrs. Leip’s time here bridges the two eras between the beginnings of Foxcroft and now, since she has been here 45 out of Foxcroft’s 99 years. In fact, Mrs. Leip’s first year as a teacher (the 1968-69 year) was during Miss Charlotte’s last year of life. Even though Miss Charlotte was no longer the headmistress or actively involved with the school, she still lived on the campus.
~Lydia ’14, DeeDee ’15, Virginia ’16
Day 3: Wednesday
On Wednesday, we met with a preservationist who came from the Morven Park property in Leesburg. We went exploring on Foxcroft campus, starting off around Brick House, Miss Charlotte’s Garden, and the old stables. We travelled across Big Track to take a look at Sage House, and heard about the history of the past Heads of School and students who lived there (it used to be the Senior dorm). We also learned that the lone stone chimney on the back of Sage used to be part of a summer house that was built around the same time as Sage.
We then moved to Spur and Spoon, where we asked her to observe the interior and exterior of the building and surrounding property, and to estimate when Spur was originally built. In the entryway of Spur, we found a wire nail and piece of plaster made with horse hair (plaster today contains other fibers), dating at least the central part of the house to the 19th century. The central part of Spur was also built similarly to Brick House, so we believe that the front door to Spur was actually on the back porch, due to the fact that the door is located under the main stairwell of the house. Typically, a wealthy family in the 18th century would want to have their main door facing the main stairway, so their staircase could be on display.
We also went exploring around the pastures behind Spur in order to find the the Foxcroft cemetery.
~Lydia ’14, DeeDee ’15, Virginia ’16
Day 2: Tuesday
Today, we sat in the Goodyear room and met with alumna Joan Moore ’53, listening to her tell stories and asking questions about her experience as a Foxcroft student in the late ’40s and early ’50s. She was a student when Schoolhouse, Dillon, and Applegate were built, all of which were completed in 1948-49. She started her Foxcroft academic life living and going to classes in Porch House, which was demolished in 1952.
She talked about doing drill team everyday out on the Fox/Hound hockey field, and she also talked about her experiences riding in the old stables (just west of Miss Charlotte’s garden, demolished 2009). She told stories about how Miss Charlotte took the girls riding all the way to Luray Caverns and back in one day, and when the riders returned to Foxcroft, they had lollipops and lemonade waiting for them on campus.
Moore also told us about Foxcroft’s relationships with other single-sex schools. Since the parties thrown at that time typically extended late into the night and into the morning, rumor has it that some boys from a boys-school were found lying in the Boxwoods by the old gym.
Left to Right — DeeDee ’15, Jean ’15, Virginia ’16, Joan Moore ’53, Lydia ’14, Soo Min ’15, Phoebe ’15
~Lydia ’14, DeeDee ’15, Virginia ’16
Day 1: Monday
On Monday we took a tour of campus through the eyes of the old buildings, looking for the shadows of those buildings no longer with us. We took a close look at the footprints and layouts of the grounds, particularly the unique architectural styles as a reflection of the era in which they were built.
We took a close look at Brick House, which we learned is the oldest brick building in Loudoun County, built circa 1740s, and was originally called Locust Hill Plantation. We learned that the main door that we now know was actually the back door due to the ventilation system during that time period. Back in the day, even large and prestigious houses were built only one room deep, so that one a hot summer day, the wind could come in through windows on the west side, and go out through the the windows on the east side, making for an excellent natural heating and air conditioning system.
We also learned about the footprints of the old Porch House and barn, which are no longer with us. Porch house was the original schoolhouse, dorm, and library, all in one building. The Foxhound Basketball game was played on an outdoor court, just outside the Porch house. Porch/Wing was laid out according to where Brick House and the old gym and infirm were (roughly where Currier Library is now), resulting in easy access to each of the main buildings on campus. Porch House, however, was very hastily built just after Foxcroft was founded, and was never intended to be a permanent building. By the early 1950s, Porch and Wing were no longer up to code, and were demolished in 1952. You can still see a glimpse of where the Porch house was, at the concrete slab and stone wall where the seniors stand every spring for their group graduation photo.
During World War I in the early 1940s, Miss Charlotte converted Foxcroft into an all-girls military school as a way to get more food rations for the students and faculty. Until after the Vietnam War, every girl was required to participate in drill team every day. The drill field was located where the Fox/Hound field hockey field is today.
~Lydia ’14, DeeDee ’15, Virginia ’16
February 17, our final day of Wintermission, was crunch day for the group of Foxcroft’s Forgotten Footprint. Although we have been working on our Power Points all week, they still needed some editing. We spent the morning part of today cropping and editing photos, adding titles to slides, and organizing the presentations. Mrs. Thorndike diligently spliced each groups individual presentations into one large, beautiful show. The beginning of our presentation consists of maps and site plans of our campus that are animated in order to show the progression of the development on campus. Following these slides are each groups presentations in chronological order starting with the 1910’s and working through until present day. Each section of the presentation includes a plethora of photos from the time period as well as a few short slides of condensed information. After we finalize our presentation we will go to the Foxhound Auditorium to do a run through. We will present the show to an empty room to make sure that everything will go smoothly when we go to present later tonight.
Our presentation to the school could not have gone better. Everyone presented their sections extremely well and was very well received by the audience. In the end, everyone in the group learned a lot about our campus and we were given the ability to inform the rest of the school about our findings. Everyone now has a better understanding of each building on campus as well as minor sections of the school’s history. Our group greatly appreciates all that was done for us and wants to thank Mrs. Thorndike and Mrs. Couzens for all of the time and effort that they put into our Wintermission course.
Today was Campus Walk Day here at Foxcroft. A preservation specialist, Jana, whom we visited with this past Monday, came to campus to discuss our buildings. We started off with Brick House, the signature building of Foxcroft School, and one of the oldest brick buildings in Loudon County, VA. We took Jana around the perimeter of the building as she discussed the brick and mortar work, window and door styles, and the decorative additions of the structure. She helped us analyze the building’s situation relative to the entry of campus as well. Our discovery is that Brick House is literally backwards. When the building is approached from the front drive, it is being seen from what is really the back. The real front of the structure is on the opposite side facing Ms. Charlotte’s Garden. We figured out that the “front” of the building is done in three stretcher and one header brick style. The “back” of the building is done in Flemish Brick style. We were also taught about the many different types of mortar that can be used and how they react with the bricks and the elements.
Following our walk around Brick House, we toured around the interior of the building. We discussed the types of decorative wood, chair rails, and floor styles used in the building. We then made our way up to the attic in order to look at the type of support systems and old electrical wiring that has been used in the building over the years. Our next destination was the cellar of Brick House. We did as much walking around as the small space allowed for and looked at the type of foundation that supports our Dining Hall and offices. Some elements of the cellar allowed us to determine that at one point Brick House was heated by coal fire.
Overall, today was a very educational day that has provided us with much more information about our buildings on campus, especially Brick House. Now this building is not just Brick House to us. It is a piece of beautiful and historic architecture that we use every day of our lives. I think that every person in this group has a newfound respect for the beauty and ornateness of the building that we know as Brick House.
– Hannah G. ’14
Our Wintermission group had a discussion with our Head of School, Ms. Leipheimer, along with Jane Lockhart, our Director of Activities. Both of these fabulous women are filled with insight, knowledge, and tons of stories, and we were privileged enough to sit with them in The Goodyear Room of the Audrey Bruce Currier Library here on campus. They told us all about how the campus has changed over the last 45 years. Both of them have seen certain buildings taken down and new ones put up in their place. They each know a plethora of people from the school’s history whom they can tell numerous stories about. Jane has many stories of previous students and their lives here on campus, and Ms. Leipheimer knows more about the Foxcroft family than anyone. To be able to sit with them and discuss the campus gave us even more information that we can add to what we have gathered in the last two days. To be given the opportunity to sit with them was a true privilege.
Following our meeting with Ms. Leipheimer and Mrs. Lockhart, our group returned to our “headquarters” of the lower lab in the library. We continued diligently working on our blog and PowerPoint presentation. Our group gave moral support to Mrs. Couzens and Mrs. Thorndike who have both been scanning in old photos and drawings like no tomorrow. We also went through photos of our own, selecting ones that we liked and editing them for use on the blog and in the presentation.
–Hannah G. ‘14
On Tuesday February 14, our group took a very short drive across our gorgeous, expansive campus to the headquarters of our maintenance crew. We greeted the head of maintenance, Mr. Dale Stotler, and were shown to the back of the building. In storage, he had been saving hundreds of architectural plans and property plats from almost everything that has ever been built on campus. We had the assignment to sort them and organize them according to their dates and what they were plans for. We separated the papers into categories including: each separate dorm, faculty housing, electrical and water plans, and community buildings. Throughout this separation process, we were organizing the plans and plats by their dates as well.
Following these long yet entertaining hours in the maintenance shop, we went back to the Audrey Bruce Currier Library to the school Archives. We were given a task to look through the archived photos of the school and find pictures of previous students interacting with the buildings on campus. Along with looking for these photos, we were also trying to find photos of razing and raising of buildings. We were looking to see a progression of the campus as it became more developed over the years. We then separated out the photos that we liked and organized them by their years and time periods. These photos were then scanned into a computer and saved into files we now can use in our blog posts and PowerPoint presentations.
– Hannah G. ’14
On Monday February 13, the Wintermission course of “Forgotten Foxcroft” commenced with our group going to Morven Park in Leesburg, VA. We had the privilege to tour the Governor’s Mansion as well as a viewing of the small second class home that was further back on the property. While we were in the mansion, a preservation specialist gave us many insights and facts about the rehabilitation and conservation of historic buildings. A building is considered historic if it is over fifty years old and remains very similar to the way it would have been at its time of construction. We were taken to the back of the mansion and given a short lesson about stucco and stone building facades. Part of the back of the mansion was left unfinished in order to be able to display the many layers and techniques of stonework and stucco used on the house.
Our viewing, not touching as it is very dilapidated, of the small second class home allowed us to learn more about the construction of early houses and some of the techniques used. We were also shown sections of the home that had acquired “ghosts” or remnants of previous parts of the home. For example, the front of the house has a panel of wood below the front door and the paint color is two-toned. These are “ghosts” that suggest that there was once a small front porch attached to the house. These small lessons gave us the knowledge to be able to look at the buildings that are on our campus and determine what techniques were used to build them and what kind of restoration processes they have undergone.
By: Hannah G. ’14