Remembering the Warrenton Country School in pictures

For most the first half of the 20th century, the Warrenton Country School, located off the Springs Road just outside of Warrenton, was a popular and successful girls’ school. Started in 1915 by Mlle. Lea Marie Bouligny (1865-1954), the school was unique in that French was the language to be spoken by all throughout the school day, and students were encouraged to develop equestrienne skills.

  The WCS was a boarding school, and while younger students were originally included, in later years only freshman through senior classes were offered. Regular enrollment was about 40 girls, including a half-dozen or so day students from local families.

  While fraternization with local boys – including those at Warrenton’s Stuyvesant School – was discouraged, WCS students were a familiar and appreciated presence in the community with their dramatic productions that were open to the public, their charitable works, and active participation in local horse shows and fox hunts.

   The WCS survived two world wars and the Great Depression, and it was only with Mlle. Bouligny’s retirement at age 84 in 1949  that the end neared. Leased to an out-of-town boys’ school operator, the school lasted only one year, and the lease to the property was cancelled.

   Mlle. Bouligny put the property up for sale, and on Dec. 26, 1952, it was acquired by the U.S. Government to be used for “undisclosed purposes related to national defense.” Purchase price for the 18+ acres of land and 12 buildings was $190,000. Soon afterward, the WCS became Station A, Warrenton Training Center.

    After 65 years operating within the sturdy buildings and landscaped gardens of the old school – albeit behind tall chain-link fences and imposing gates – the “walls have come down” as new construction replaces the old forever, and the WTC will truly be just a memory.

   The history of the Warrenton Country School, with the focus on the faculty, students and its activities, was covered extensively in the August and September 2015 issues of Warrenton Lifestyle magazine.

  These photographs were selected from over 200 prints provided by the estate of the late Virginia “Gina” Farrar Timberlake, whose mother, Katherine Bowman Farrar, was a student at the school in the 1930s, and later worked there.

Tinted postcard of the front of the main building of the Warrenton Country School, taken in the late 1940s. Shown on the front steps are former principal Mrs. Edna Fitch (left) and Mlle. Lea Bouligny.
Many students at the WCS became skilled horseback riders. This group was photographed departing from the main entrance for a jaunt in the country in the 1940s.
The Garden Theater, with its stonework and terraces, was used for dramatic productions like the one shown, as well as for graduation ceremonies and other events. The grounds of the school were designed by Bradford Williams, ASLA, of Boston.
A typical bedroom in the Senior Cottage, with accommodations for two students.
The Senior Cottage at the school had a spacious lounge for meetings, study, or relaxation.
The dining room at the WCS was decorated with flowers and crockery. It was required that French be spoken at all meals.
The large gymnasium, with a stage at one end for the performing arts and an overhead track, was one of the best of its day.
Participation in sports was encouraged at the WCS, as shown in this photo of a basketball game with Foxcroft School in 1946.
The Reading Room, or school library, was a place of quiet and study.


Music classes were conducted in this studio, which had two pianos.
Students photographed while perform a chemistry experiment in the laboratory in 1948.
A typical classroom in the main building, with desks, bookshelves and the teacher’s table.


John Toler
About John Toler 17 Articles
Broad Run resident John Toler is the co-author of the recent Fauquier County and Town of Warrenton history books, and has contributed numerous newspaper and magazine articles focused on the history of Fauquier, Prince William and Loudoun counties.


  1. I have been doing some family ancestry research. I have one picture, clearly cut from a magazine/newspaper showing “second addition, erected in 1916. The picture was with several pictures from my paternal side. What I am after, if possible, is if girls with the last name of Spencer attended there. Do you have such records? Thank you in advance for any answer… sincerely, Judy Lee

    • Julia-
      Over the years I have done research and writing about the WCS because there are still descendants of some of the students still living in the area who remember it. Sadly, nearly everything that was there is gone now.
      As for students named “Spencer,” I know of no enrollment records kept anywhere. Most of my research materials have been donated to the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation in Marshall, Va., but are only for the decade of the 1940s.

  2. I am the granddaughter of Edna Fitch and was delighted to find this article. My mother, Margaret, is the girl at the table in the Reading Room. She was about 12 when this photo was taken and remembered it well.
    Is there a way I can see Virginia Timberlake’s photos? Where are they now? Are they with the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation? I have so few photos of the school, except for a box of slides. There are photos of the grounds at the Library of Congress that were taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston, which can be accessed online.
    Thanks very much.

  3. I lived in one of four houses on the WTC for three years in the early seventies. I just found this article and the photos. I have memories of playing in the gymnasium, sitting in the cherry trees eating cherries as well as walking through the grounds and seeing the statuary. We also played restaurant in the basement “Rathskeller,” which looks a little like the dining areas in these photos. Thanks for the memories. I wished it had been preserved.

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