Last week we were invited to join Emory and Henry College’s More Than a Vacation (MTAV) alumni group for a special presentation by the Librarian of Virginia, Sandra Treadway, on the Virginia Women’s Monument. This monument honors women whose achievements and contributions have had a significant impact on the Commonwealth over the course of Virginia’s 400-year history. Among the women selected to be featured in twelve life-sized bronze statues is Laura Copenhaver, co-founder of the Konnarock Training School, the historic gem that is to become our future Discovery Center.
Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868-1940), a native of Marion, has a long history of influence in Southwest Virginia. She was a writer of fiction, poetry, pageants, and the popular hymn, “Heralds of Christ”. As director of information for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Copenhaver helped propel advancements in the regional agricultural economy. As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, she started a textile business in her home, utilizing locally-sourced wool and hiring local women to craft coverlets. Rosemont Industries still operates today in Marion as Laura Copenhaver Industries.
Laura Copenhaver was also a lay leader, who, along with her cousin Rev. Kenneth Killinger, made an impassioned plea to the Women’s Missionary Society, convincing them to establish the Konnarock Training School in 1925. Copenhaver’s advocacy toward the education of impoverished youth within Appalachian communities began a legacy which Blue Ridge Discovery Center is thrilled to continue.
The Virginia Women’s Monument
Installation of the Virginia Women’s Monument, Voices in the Garden, is currently underway in Richmond’s Capitol Square with a formal dedication scheduled for October 2019. The monument will be the first of its kind nationwide.