A Colonial-Era School Used To Educate Black Children Pre-Revolutionary War Receives $5M Grant


March 1, 2022

It’s believed to be the oldest building in the country used to educate free and enslaved Black children.

A colonial-era school used to educate Black children pre-Revolutionary war receives a five million dollar grant, The Hill reports.

The Williamsburg Bray School was a schoolhouse located in Williamsburg, Virginia that educated hundreds of enslaved and free Black children between 1760 to 1774. The building is believed to be the oldest building in the country that was used to educate Black children before the revolutionary war. . Last year, Colonial Williamsburg and The College of William & Mary announced plans to restore and relocate the schoolhouse to Colonial Williamsburg’s campus. 


Now, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is donating five million dollars toward the restoration of The Bray School, looking to preserve a piece of pre-Revolutionary war history. 

Cliff Fleet, President and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg issued a statement about the importance of the grant, saying, “This important work will expand our understanding of 18th-century America and add to our body of knowledge about this important time in our nation’s history. These new stories will be passed along through our public history programming and offer visitors a richer and deeper connection to our shared past.”

In addition to the building’s restoration, the two educational institutions will partner to launch a joint research initiative aimed at documenting the history of the school and its students. The Bray School is the 89th original structure on the Colonial Williamsburg campus and the first new historic building since the 1960s. 


The restoration is set to be completed by 2024, just in time for the 250th anniversary of the school’s closing which occurred on the eve of the American Revolution. For more information on The Bray School restoration project, click here

Photo Courtesy of The College of William & Mary

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