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,
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
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®. (Marker Number 12.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Education. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1870.
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. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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); First Baptist Church (about 500 feet away); Poplar Lawn (about 600 feet away); Confederate Hospital (about 600 feet away); McKenney House (about 600 feet away); Prince Hall Masons in Virginia (about 700 feet away); Weddell-McCabe-Chisholm House (about 800 feet away); Drilling Ground (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map 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 Richmond, Virginia.)
2. The Peabody Fund. The African American Registry (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
3. Anna P. Bolling Junior High School (PDF file). National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 4,555 times since then and 87 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 30, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.