ABOUT THIS PHOTO
The first graduating class of the Jefferson School, 1867. With support from the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society, Nantucket abolitionist and educator Anna Gardner (seated center, front row) came to Charlottesville in 1865 to establish the first integrated school, which she named for Thomas Jefferson. That was a full five years before Virginia launched a statewide public school system in 1870. The Jefferson School, which also trained future teachers (Isabella Gibbons having been the first), was held in a run-down, former hotel and Confederate hospital on West Main Street, the Delevan Building— later the site of the First Baptist Church near Union Station. Written on the walls of every classroom were the words “Knowledge is power.” The Jefferson School was formally adopted into the Albemarle County public school system as a segregated school for children of color in 1871.
Second Street Media
As part of our commitment to document and explore the stories of Central Virginia, we operate an in-house, boutique video production program under the brand, Second Street Media— named for the street on which our historic Museum and Library now stands. Second Street (first known as Church Street) was part of the original layout in the 1762 design for the town of Charlottesville. Among our priority video projects is an on-going effort to record the oral histories of people here in the Charlottesville area: preserving those first-hand memories of people from all walks of life and all our neighborhoods. We also regularly record public events and document current local scenes for our Blog. The Charlottesville Center for History and Culture’s Second Street videos are posted to our website and on our YouTube Channel.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO
The Jefferson Graded School building was erected at the corner of 4th and Commerce Streets in 1894, a new home for the segregated public school for children of color. It was strategically sited between two predominantly African-American neighborhoods, Starr Hill and Vinegar Hill. By design, the school stopped at the 8th grade. Students interested in pursuing their education into high school and beyond were forced to go to schools outside the area or even outside the state. It was not until February 1926, thanks to lobbying by parents, community and church leaders, that Charlottesville opened an additional Jefferson School campus (nearby this building) that included a high school curriculum for African-American students. The 1894 school in this photo was torn down in 1960, but the 1926 school building has been preserved and today houses Charlottesville’s African-American Heritage Center.
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At the Historic McIntire Library
On the park in downtown Charlottesville
200 Second Street, NE
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Monday-Friday (9-5), Saturday (10-1)