“Open-air” classroom at Moore Street School, 1113 W. Moore Street, Richmond, Va.


Valentine_Open Air Classroom 1916_I_Cook1657 rsz.jpg


“Open-air” classroom at Moore Street School, 1113 W. Moore Street, Richmond, Va.


In the early-20th century, Europe and the U.S. saw the rise of “open air” schools intended to create healthy environments to combat tuberculosis using the principles of sanatoria. Sometimes purpose-built, and sometimes converted spaces, open air schools provided fresh air and extra nutrition for at-risk youth.

In the May 1917 issue of The Modern City, John H. Ferguson wrote about Richmond’s 16 open air schools: “Each school has a capacity of 20 children; and each one is always crowded, with a long waiting list. The children are selected from the entire public school system of the city by the school physician…Few of these children have tuberculosis even in its non-communicative forms, but they are all below par, physically, just in the right receptive condition to be fertile soil for the development of the disease.” 

A Richmond Times-Dispatch notice of March 2, 1915 (p. 7) noted fundraising activities of "prominent society women" in support of the open-air schools. These women served as tearoom hostesses in the palm garden of the Jefferson Hotel. Indoor golf was a popular activity for which "two handsome silver cups" were to be awarded at the conclusion of the season.


Cook, Huestis P. (photographer)


Cook 1657, Cook Collection, The Valentine




The Valentine


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Learn more: 
Tuberculosis, Social Welfare History Project 
Tuberculosis, Social Welfare History Image Portal
Carr, Laura (2017). Open air schools: The fight against tuberculosis. The Valentine (blog)  
Open-Air Schools. Bulletin 1916, No. 23. Bureau of Education. Department of the Interior. via ERIC 
Goldsberry collection of open-air school photographs, Library of Congress 
1930s: Open-Air Schools, Retronaut 
Does Cold Weather Sharpen a Schoolboy's Wits? The Scrap Book, 1908. pp. 883-884. via HathiTrust.org 
Nierenberg, A. (2019 October 27). Classrooms without walls and hopefully covid. New York Times.



Cook, Huestis P. (photographer), ““Open-air” classroom at Moore Street School, 1113 W. Moore Street, Richmond, Va.,” Social Welfare History Image Portal, accessed May 29, 2024, https://images.socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/items/show/310.