Lincoln Preservation Foundation
Springdale Home & School for Girls
Historical Dates: 1839 - present
Threat Level: Low
Location: Lincoln Road
The school was built in 1839 by Samuel Janney, a devout Quaker and author of several books, including The Life of William Penn. A staunch abolitionist, Samuel Janney wrote about his school: "First I saw the necessity of educating the white children... And secondly, I thought it would be the means of promoting the anti-slavery sentiment which was obstructed by ignorance and prejudice."
Springdale was built by avid abolitionist, government official, writer, noted educator, and evangelical Quaker, Samuel M. Janney. Known as a ‘loyal fighter for the mistreated,’ he was credited with establishing Sunday Schools and day school for African American children. He personally taught his hired farm hands to read and write. His ancestors were long invested in Goose Creek; they settled here from Pennsylvania in 1745.
Springdale was originally a highly successful girl’s boarding school, the first on the East Coast. When the Civil War got too close, Janney sent his students home for safety and then used Springdale as a soldiers' hospital serving both the North and South. Hand-carved initials can still be seen in the hardwood floors, presumingly from soldiers being treated in the hospital.
According to family and town legend, it is believed that Springdale served as one of the last stops of the Underground Railroad. This is supported by architectural evidence of sub-basements, crawl spaces, curious cubby holes and closed-off fireplaces. The Potomac River and freedom were only 14 miles away. Interestingly, Janney possessed a personal pass, signed by President Lincoln, to cross the Potomac during the War when all others were barred.
Springdale later housed a co-ed school and then in the early 1900’s served as a boarding house, housing up to 35 people at a time. It was later purchased as a private weekend retreat where Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson were known to play poker in the parlor. In recent years, Springdale Country Inn was a B & B, hosting small business gatherings and receptions.
Springdale is listed on both the national and state registers of historic places.