All Alumni And The Public
Invited For Fall Carnival and Homecoming
For 100th Anniversay Of Taylor Elementary School
Scheduled With Day Of Festivities On Saturday, October
By Yolanda Brown
Taylor School Staff Teacher
On Saturday, October 14th, Walter Herron Taylor
Elementary School in West Ghent will celebrate 100
years of memories during their Fall Carnival and
Over one hundred alumni, some in their 90s, have
been contacted and will be honored at the event.
Taylor Elementary, which began as Taylor School,
has a long history of educating the youth of Norfolk
and has produced many upstanding citizens in its
long history, including three former mayors.
Descendants of Walter Herron Taylor will also be
present and recognized during this event. The school
is currently being led by Principal Charlene Feliton.
In its 100 years, there have been a total of twenty
principals, only three of which have been women.
Besides the usual carnival games, food, and family
fun, this year's event has special significance
because of the 100 year anniversary. A temporary
museum is being created which can be visited during
the Carnival and Homecoming. The museum will include
many newspaper articles and other memorabilia from
the past 100 years.
There are items from the 50 year celebration in
1967, where students put on a pageant. There are
class pictures from various years, and although
there are gaps, some group pictures date back to
Information about Walter Herron Taylor will be available.
Student-led tours of the facility will be given
during a portion of the day. The creation of a time
capsule is also being planned.
W. H. Taylor Elementary School was named in honor
of Walter Herron Taylor, who joined the Confederate
Army in 1861, and became adjutant to General Robert
E. Lee. After the war, the Norfolk-born Taylor continued
to live out his life as an upstanding citizen of
our city. He was a local banker, lawyer, author,
and railroad executive. He served in Norfolk municipal
offices and as a State Senator. His portrait, donated
by Taylor Family members, hangs in the building.
The Taylor family also donated the Jean-Antoine
Houdon sculpture of George Washington that still
stands in the atrium of the school today.
Taylor School, which opened in September 1917, was
built on a site formerly known as Cromwell Farm
according to a document written by the school's
first custodian, Mr. George T. Sharp. He remained
the custodian of the school for at least 33 years.
The document, "History of Walter Herron Taylor
School," is still stored in the building and
provides some colorful and little known history.
It is not certain when the document was written,
but it seems to date somewhere around 1950.
Once covered by mud, and later, oyster shells, "the
site of the Taylor School was out in the country."
Sharp wrote when referring to Princess Anne Road,
"There were very few houses from Princess Anne
out to the underpass and to the west, none out to
the N. & W. (Norfolk and Western) tracks. Colley
Avenue, Hampton Boulevard and Princess Anne Road
were mud roads. I have caught rabbits and killed
snakes all around the school and (there were) birds
of all kinds. After the first year, buildings were
going up every day."
There was no lunchroom in the beginning, but eventually
one was added in the basement. The building started
with twelve classrooms, with four more being completed
by 1919. Taylor was the first "grammar school"
in Norfolk to have an auditorium. Many school and
community functions were held there, since it was
the only auditorium in the area.
During the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919, Taylor
School served as a hospital and was closed to students
from late September to mid-November while the Red
Cross turned classrooms into make-shift hospital
rooms. Flu victims were brought in from all over
the city. "The charge was one dollar a day
for those who could pay and no charge for those
who could not," Mr. Sharp said.
By the 1990s, Taylor School was growing tired and
lacked many of the modern necessities and technologies
that are so critical to a twenty-first century education.
The community and the city came to the realization
that a new building would be an essential addition
to our city. It was built directly in front of the
old one, facing Princess Anne Road. The new W. H.
Taylor Elementary School opened its doors to students
in June 1999, and was dedicated in January of 2000.
The 2017 Carnival and Homecoming celebrating 100
years of Taylor is going to be an exciting event
for the entire community and city. Walter Herron
Taylor Elementary School has a tradition of providing
a quality public education to the citizens of Norfolk
and the school continues to be the cornerstone of
a proudly diverse and caring community.
(Editors note: Yolanda Brown, author of this
special story, is a 5th Grade Teacher at
W. H. Taylor Elementary School)