“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Petersburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Peabody-Williams School

Petersburg, Virginia

The Peabody-Williams School CRIEHT Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2009
1. The Peabody-Williams School CRIEHT Marker
Inscription. Disrupted by the convulsions of the First World War, efforts to replace the increasingly inadequate Peabody School on Fillmore Street stretched out from 1913 until 1920, when the new Peabody-Williams School opened on Jones Street. Charles Robinson, who designed scores of other Virginia schools, including four others and the Petersburg Hotel in Petersburg, and executed master plans for Virginia State University and the College of William & Mary, completed his plans for the new school in 1917. They called for twin buildings, one (the Peabody Building) to house the high school and the auditorium, and the other (the Williams Building) to house the elementary school, linked by both a distinctive arcade and a cloistered walkway. The whole was called the Peabody-Williams School. The surviving building is the Peabody Building.

The high school was accredited as a four-year high school in 1921, and served for decades as the training ground for many distinguished African Americans, including hundreds of educators. In 1951, when the new high school to your right was constructed, it took the Peabody name, and the Peabody-Williams complex became the Henry Williams School, serving elementary and junior high school students. Later, the buildings were used as an annex for the high school, and the auditorium converted into a gymnasium.
Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail® Map Photo, Click for full size
2. Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail® Map
Appomattox County
1. Winonah Camp/Mozella Price Home
2. Carver-Price School
3. Education in 1800's Rural Virginia

Buckingham County
4. One-Room Schoolhouse
5. Carter G. Woodson Birthplace

Cumberland County
6. Hamilton High School
7. Rosenwald School at Cartersville
8. Jackson Davis

Amelia County
9. Russell Grove Presbyterian Church and School
10. Mrs. Samantha Jane Neil

Chesterfield County
11. Virginia State University

12. Earliest Known Public High School for African Americans in Virginia
13. McKenney Library
14. The Peabody-Williams School

Dinwiddie County
15. Southside Virginia Training Center
16. Rocky Branch School
17. Early Education in Dinwiddie County

Nottoway County
18. Blackstone Female Institute
19. Mt. Nebo Church
20. Ingleside Training Institute

Lunenburg County
21. The People's Community Center
22. St. Matthew's Lutheran Church Christian Day School

Prince Edward County
23. Prince Edward County Public Schools
24. R. R. Moton High School
25. Farmville Female Seminary Association
26. First Baptist Church
27. Beulah AME Church
28. Hampden-Sydney College

Charlotte County
29. Southside Virginia Community College - John H. Daniel Campus
30. Charlotte County Library
31. Salem School

Halifax County
32. Meadville Community Center
33. Mary M. Bethune High School
34. Washington-Coleman Elementary School
35. Mizpah Church

Mecklenburg County
36. Thyne Institute
37. Boydton Academic and Bible Institute

Brunswick County
38. Southside Virginia Community College - Christanna Campus
39. Saint Paul's College
40. Hospital and School of the Good Shepherd
41. Fort Christanna
In 1960, Peabody students participated in the sit-in at the City Library; two were arrested. The Williams Building, which stood to the right of the Peabody Building, burned in 1967. Under the court-ordered desegregation plan of 1971, the high school became the Peabody Middle School, and the high school was abandoned.

Renewed interest led to its placement on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, and to the beginning of efforts to restore the building in 2002.

(Above) The Peabody-Williams School, c. 1920.

(Left) Rev. Henry Williams of the Gillfield Baptist Church. He and others petitioned in the 1870s to have African Americans appointed as administrators and teachers in the African American Schools in Petersburg. They met with success in 1882. The Williams Building was named after him. The Peabody Building was named after George Peabody, whose philanthropy made the Petersburg public schools, and in particular the Peabody School, possible.

Photos of the Peabody-Williams School courtesy of Dr. Germane Fauntleroy from a postcard courtesy of Virginia State University Archives. Photo of Henry Williams courtesy of Virginia State University Archives.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®. (Marker Number 14.)
Marker series.
The Peabody Building Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2009
3. The Peabody Building
This marker is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 37° 13.072′ N, 77° 24.696′ W. Marker is in Petersburg, Virginia. Marker is on South Jones Street 0.1 miles south of Lee Avenue, on the left when traveling south. 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. North Carolina Confederate Hospital (approx. half a mile away); Bishop Payne Divinity School (approx. half a mile away); Lincoln In Petersburg (approx. half a mile away); Earliest Known Public High School for African Americans in Virginia (approx. 0.6 miles away); Fort Henry (approx. 0.6 miles away); Peabody High School (approx. 0.6 miles away); General Lee's Headquarters (approx. 0.6 miles away); Folly Castle (approx. 0.6 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. Peabody Building of the Peabody-Williams School (PDF file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

4. Peabody High School National Alumni Association
The Peabody Building Photo, Click for full size
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2009
4. The Peabody Building
. (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsEducation
The Peabody Building Photo, Click for full size
National Register of Historic Places
5. The Peabody Building
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 945 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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