The Problematic Legacy of Judge John Handley: R. Gray Williams, The General Education Board, and Progressive Education in Winchester, Virginia, 1895-1924

by Kenneth W. Rose

Jan 1, 2008

When the John Handley School opened in Winchester, Virginia in the fall of 1923, the impressive structure and its carefully landscaped grounds were the culmination of a process that began in 1895 with the death of Judge John Handley of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a man who had never lived in the city that was to benefit from his fortune. For reasons known only to himself, Handley left the city of Winchester funds to erect a library and, somewhat more vaguely, to build schools for the education of its poor children. His bequest set in motion a long process of institution building that involved law suits, wrangling over the terms of the bequest, and public controversy that involved the executors of Handley's estate in Pennsylvania; Winchester's mayor and city council; the city council's independent agent, the Handley Board of Trustees; the Winchester School Board; residents of the city; and the General Education Board, a philanthropic organization based in New York City, to whom the Handley trustees turned for advice and assistance in making its vision of education for Winchester's children a reality.
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