Construction of Stenwood Elementary School began in the spring of 1963 on a 10-acre site in the Dunn Loring Woods subdivision. Our school originally had 20 classrooms and cost $431,000 to construct. Construction of our school was not completed in time for the opening of schools in September, so classes were held at three elementary schools. Students were picked up at their homes and transported by bus to Dunn Loring Elementary, where three classes were housed. From there, three classes were shuttled by bus to Vienna Elementary, and the remaining four classes were transported to Flint Hill Elementary School. Our first librarian, Mildred Stroble O’Neill, travelled to the three schools and circulated books from each library. Our first principal, William “Bill” Berkeley Martin, worked out of an office at Vienna Elementary School.
Stenwood Elementary School was completed and moved into on February 3, 1964. Our school was originally designed with folding walls between classrooms that could be opened during sessions of cooperative teaching. During our first year, enrollment was approximately 400 students. By September 1964, that number had grown to 584 students, and by September 1965 enrollment had swelled to 705 students.
The Stenhouse Family
After construction of our school was complete, Edna Walker Stenhouse, who lived across Gallows Road from our school, planted dogwoods and azaleas in the elevated circle in our driveway, and had a sundial placed there in memory of her husband Walter Stenhouse, for whom our school is named. In 1983, as part of the preparations for our school’s 20th anniversary, the sundial’s brick base was rebuilt by three generations of Stenwood supporters: Joe Bell; his son, Ted, a Stenwood alumnus; and Ted, Jr., then a kindergartener at Stenwood. The brass dial was refurbished by Dante Notaro, husband of Antoinette Notaro, a teacher at Stenwood. The sundial was rededicated during the anniversary celebration.
Following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, in May 1898, Secretary of War Russell Alger selected several farms near Dunn Loring and Merrifield upon which to build a training facility for the United States Army. By the end of June some 23,000 troops were stationed in the area at Camp Alger. The land where Stenwood Elementary School stands was used as a campsite by the United States Army’s 13th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. The Army’s 1st Division Headquarters was located a short distance southwest of our school. From July to November 1898, a typhoid epidemic, spurred on by contaminated drinking water, swept through Camp Alger, eventually forcing its closure.