The site for Matthew Maury Elementary School was originally seven acres of farmland. The land was purchased in 1927 as a site for a school to serve "small children west of the railroad tracks." The original school was constructed in 1929 at a cost of $35,000. It consisted of six classrooms and an auditorium, with a design enabling future additions as needed.
The school was named after Matthew Maury, known as the "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" for his contributions to charting winds and ocean currents. This included charting ocean lanes for passing ships at sea. Matthew Maury was also a member of the Confederate army. He created an early version of the torpedo, lobbied for the Confederacy in Europe, attempted to negotiate a slave trade with Brazil, and encouraged confederates to migrate to Mexico following the war.
In 1941 three more rooms were added to the back of the school. Two large wings were added to each side of the main building in 1949. In 1961 another wing was added to the right side of the building. The gymnasium was added in 1971, and the library has undergone renovation several times.
A major renovation began in the summer of 2004 and was completed during the summer of 2005. It included a new media center, additional classroom space, teacher work areas, new office space for the principal and secretaries, and a more secure front entrance.
More details on Matthew Maury
- National Civil War Museum Article on Maury: On Monument Avenue | A Confederate for the World
- Matthew Maury statue was featured in a Confederate exhibit (PDF) at the National Portrait Gallery.
- On January 16, 1929, the Alexandria School board voted to name Matthew Maury Elementary school. The minutes of the meeting can be found at on page 115..
The Name: Matthew Maury Elementary School
ACPS feels the need to acknowledge the origin and namesake of Matthew Maury Elementary School.
We are critically aware that there is a pressing need in our schools, our community, and our nation to find ways to talk about race constructively and respectfully. One of the ways that we can move forward is by acknowledging our own history while refusing to allow that history to define who we currently are as a school division in the present.
Matthew Maury, known as the "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" for his contributions to charting winds and ocean currents, including ocean lanes for passing ships at sea, was also a member of the Confederate army. He helped acquire a ship for the Confederacy while advocating to end the war in America.
With students from more than 120 countries in ACPS, it is no secret that ACPS values diversity. Our ability to make our students and their families feel welcome and safe in our schools is of utmost importance, especially as we get ready to start a new school year. We will always act to ensure that our values are upheld in accordance with our policies.
In 2017, the School Board issued a message regarding the principles of inclusiveness and equity. In it, they reaffirmed our commitment to fostering an atmosphere of inclusiveness and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, disability, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. They also reaffirmed their work to continue building bridges of understanding and mutual respect among the diverse members of our community and their opposition to intolerance. Clearly, our School Board and community believe that education for all is a defining promise of American democracy. You can read this message in full in ACPS Express.
Please note that this is just the beginning of the conversation regarding Matthew Maury Elementary School. We will work with teachers, and staff to continue to work through this issue during the 2020-2021 school year.