This old farmhouse was built in 1929 as a replacement for a mansion that was built a century earlier. The property is the former home of the highly-regarded educator and change-making politician, Blake Tyler Newton. Most notably, Newton served in the Virginia Senate from 1955 to 1965 and was a big supporter of public school desegregation. His unwillingness to back down on the matter eventually cost him his job as president of the State Board of Education.
Newton lived in Hague, a small town in Virginia’s Westmoreland County, his whole life, where he enjoyed multiple careers as a politician, school principal, school superintendent, and lawyer. In his early years in Virginia, he attended segregated public schools and went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of William and Mary. In 1956, he received his alma mater’s highest alumni award for loyalty and service. As a school superintendent of Westmoreland and Richmond counties, a position he held for 41 years, he replaced 30 one-room schoolhouses (often without plumbing or heat) with centralized modern public schools and established a school bus transportation system. He also oversaw the consolidation of elementary and high schools in the two counties.
As a state senator, Newton was a member of a 20-man coalition that supported former Governor J. Lindsey Almond against a 19-member bloc of strict segregationists in the Virginia General Assembly. He was also a leader of the “Straight Democratic Ticket” organization that fought the “Eisenhower Democrats” and the then powerful Byrd organization and worked on the 1960 election campaign of John F. Kennedy. After his retirement from the state senate, Newton served as a director of the Farmer’s Bank of Hague and continued to practice law part-time until his death in the 1970s. Blake Tyler Newton, along with many other members of the family, are buried in a private cemetery on the property behind the house. In 2001, Westmoreland County named its new library after Newton. Today, the old farmhouse is currently undergoing restoration.
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