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Odrick's Corner Located with Historic Marker

It was a different Fairfax County when Alfred E. Odrick donated land and helped to build a schoolhouse near the intersection of Lewinsville Road and Spring Hill Road in McLean.

In 1872, after Odrick bought 50 acres for $750 across Lewinsville Road from the school, "he gave the land, and helped put up the building — the Odrick School for colored children," said an account in the Washington Star.

“I think Alfred Odrick would be shocked,” said Rick Thoesen, Dranesville District’s representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority board and the newly elected mayor of Herndon.

“Land is not $15 an acre any more,” Thoesen said. “It’s more than $15 a foot.”

“He would be proud of the human values here in Dranesville District,” Thoesen said.

“Odrick’s Corner, which was lost in the hustle and bustle of Dranesville District, has been found.”

The sign was erected on Park Authority property on Lewinsville Road near the Spring Hill Recreation Center because the Virginia Department of Transportation won’t permit historic markers in the right of way of a state road.

AS A FORMER SLAVE, "It was illegal for my great-great grandfather to learn how to read," said Dianne Hardison of Great Falls.

"It was illegal for my great-great grandfather to acquire any kind of tangible property. It was illegal for my grandfather to engage in commerce.

Last week, Hardison, swelled with pride as she heard, again, of Odrick's accomplishments. “In spite of tremendous obstacles, the human spirit prevailed," she said.

Now, Hardison, Odrick’s great-great granddaughter, can certainly read. She has completed the coursework for her Ph.D.

She can own tangible property, and does. For 25 years, she has been a landowner in Great Falls.

She can engage in commerce. As director of domestic marketing for the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, she heads a team of eight professionals who travel the U.S. recruiting high-tech companies that want to expand to Fairfax County.

HARDISON HELPED last week Dranesville District supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn and Lewinsville Coalition President Jane Edmondson pulled a Fairfax County flag from the historic marker that tells why the intersection of the two roads is still called "Odrick's Corner."

Behind her was Spring Hill Recreation Center, where black children swim every day, and take lessons if they like.

When Hardison was young, she didn't have that acceptance. Like other young black children in McLean, she visited swimming pools in Washington, and art museums, where they were accepted.

A group of white citizens, known as the Neighbors for a Better Community, organized a carpool to drive them there.

"The parents would get together and take us to the Smithsonian. All the cultural events were in D.C. We didn't have anything out here in Virginia," said Hardison, who moved to McLean in 1953, at the age of two.

Hardison attended a segregated Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna, where her first grade teacher was Ora Lawson.

So Hardison, now almost a Ph.D., became one of the first two students to attend Cooper.

"In 1961-62, I had to petition to go to Cooper Intermediate. Before mandatory integration, we had to petition to attend what we called then a white school. I was scheduled to go to Luther Jackson, the black high school in Fairfax county," she said.

Luther Jackson is located at Route 50 and the Beltway, which didn't exist when Hardison was in elementary school. Her family lived in McLean, on Lewinsville Road.

Later, she went to Marshall High School, before Langley High was built.

Hardison graduated from Virginia State University as a French major, and went on to earn a master's in Francophone history at the University of Dayton.

She has completed the coursework for her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.

AS SHE WATCHED the historic marker unveiled, Hardison said, "I was very proud of the vision and the values of my ancestors."

"In school, we only hear the effect of slavery from the former master's perspective. You don't learn the impact of slavery from the enslaved perspective unless you pursue that on your own, or you hear it through your family's oral history.

"So growing up, I knew that my great-great grandfather owned property, was gainfully employed, and donated property on which the school was built. He knew education was vitally important.

"Growing up with that, you are instilled with values that you can do anything you want to do.

"There was no question you would go to college, you would get your master's degree and you would be an achiever. That was a given," Hardison said.

"I was very proud. And I was thankful that recognition had come to Odrick's Corner. This African American community predates 98 percent of the rest of McLean, but its heritage had been overlooked," Hardison said.

“The money for the plaque is nothing, compared to the feeling we have for the contributions it recognizes,” said former Supervisor Lilla Richards.