Petersburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Earliest Known Public High School for African Americans in Virginia
By 1874, this school had so expanded as to require the construction of a new building in the space in front of you, facing Fillmore, still accommodating both the elementary and high school. Since both schools had been funded using George Peabody Fund money, the new school was called the Peabody School. As a result of repeated petitions by the Rev. Henry Williams of Gillfield Baptist Church and others, African Americans were appointed as administrators and teachers in the African-American schools in Petersburg for the first time during the 1882-83 school year. The first of these appointments
Due to Peabody School’s growing inadequacies, the school was moved to a substantially larger new building on Jones Street in 1920. For several years the old building served as an armory, and was then demolished to make way for the new Anna Bolling Junior High School for white students, which opened in the present building in 1926. Court-ordered integration in 1971 led to the closing of Anna Bolling, which now houses apartments for the elderly.
(Above) In 1870, the Old African Church was renovated and housed both an elementary school and the first public high school for African Americans in Virginia.
(Left) Major Giles B. Cooke, the first principal of the Number One elementary School and the Colored Public High School, 1868-1871.
(Above Right) Walter C. Holmes (1884-1963) graduated from Peabody High School in 1901. He is pictured wearing his graduation pin. His father, James Meredith Bolling Holmes (1844-1923) was the first black letter carrier in Petersburg.
Church Photo courtesy of First Baptist Church, Harrison Street. Photo of Walter C. Holmes courtesy of Nathaniel Dance. Photo of Major Cooke courtesy of Elsa Verbyla.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®. (Marker
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 37° 13.314′ N, 77° 24.177′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Harrison Street and Maple Lane, on the left when traveling south on Harrison Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Peabody High School (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Poplar Lawn (about 600 feet away); Weddell-McCabe-Chisholm House (about 800 feet away); Bishop Payne Divinity School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln In Petersburg (approx. 0.2 miles away); McKenney House (approx. 0.2 miles away); McKenney Library (approx. ¼ mile away); North Carolina Confederate Hospital (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
Also see . . .
1. Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. Virginia's Retreat (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
2. The Peabody Fund. The African American Registry (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
3. Anna P. Bolling Junior High School (PDF file) (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights • Education •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,688 times since then and 279 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.