“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kingwood in Preston County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)

Preston Academy

Preston Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, May 26, 2022
1. Preston Academy Marker
Incorporated as an educational institution by Act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1841, the Preston Academy building was completed by 1844 and served this purpose until 1875, when it was converted to a private residence. When fire destroyed the Preston County Courthouse in 1869, Circuit Court of Preston County was held in the Preston Academy until the new courthouse was built in 1870. In 1959, the Preston County Board of Education purchased the property for use as classes and offices until the late-1980's. In 1996, Friends of the Preston Academy was formed to preserve the building and grounds to provide cultural and educational opportunities.

The Preston Academy, significant as a fine example of Second Empire architectural style and the third oldest building in Kingwood, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Founding trustees of the Preston Academy were among the most illustrious men in the county. Two notable "masters" put their intellectual and moral stamp on the institution - Alexander Martin and William Conley. Major Conley was director of the Academy for 14 years. His son, William,
Preston Academy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, May 26, 2022
2. Preston Academy Marker
Marker is located at the far right of the photo.
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served as West Virginia's eighteenth governor. Alexander Martin directed the Academy in 1846-1847. In 1867, he was named president of newly-founded West Virginia University. For his influence there, he often is considered its "founder." Martin's influence on the Preston Academy can be seen in its balanced curriculum and the strict standards of student behavior set by the by-laws.

In 1874, the Preston Academy had fallen into disrepair; the Board of Education ordered construction of a new schoolhouse near the town cemetery to be known as the Kingwood Academy. The last day at the Preston Academy was to be celebrated by a picnic in July 1875. Since it was rainy, the Preston County Journal reports that the celebration was held indoors. A visitor and teachers "supplied a quantity of confections and the little folks, having brought their baskets filled with delicacies, a dinner was spread in the Academy...Shrieks of merriment, smiles and all the innocent playfulness, which happy childhood only knows" marked the end of over three decades of education at the Preston Academy.

Nearly one hundred years later, the voice of beloved commercial teacher Mary Virginia Fairfax rang out in these halls. She was the great, great granddaughter of Col. John Fairfax and the great, great niece of original Trustee Buckner Fairfax.

Restored as a genealogy and local history
Preston Academy image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, May 26, 2022
3. Preston Academy
center, the Preston Academy commemorates its original function as an educational institution.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1875.
Location. 39° 28.232′ N, 79° 41.195′ W. Marker is in Kingwood, West Virginia, in Preston County. Marker is on East High Street east of South Price Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 104 E High St, Kingwood WV 26537, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Veterans Memorial (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Preston County Buckwheat Festival (about 500 feet away); Preston County Civil War Monument (about 500 feet away); Price's Tavern (about 600 feet away); Preston County Courthouse (about 600 feet away); Vietnam Veterans Memorial (about 600 feet away); James C. McGrew (about 600 feet away); “The Pines” (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kingwood.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 2, 2022. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 443 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 29, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 24, 2023