First Black School in Charles Town/Achilles Dixon Home
Established in 1865 by the Freedmens' Bureau, the first African American school in Charles Town was located in the Achilles Dixon home. The school located in the Dixon home was named the Liberty Street School, and employed a local Storer College graduate to teach the students. In 1867, Jefferson County began its own system of black education, and by 1874 constructed a brick school house on Harewood Road, now Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. The students were moved from the Achilles Dixon home to the newly constructed Page-Jackson High School.
Backstory and Context
Achilles Dixon was one
of 540 free blacks in Jefferson County in 1850. He and his wife, Ellen Dixon,
owned a house and a blacksmith shop on the corner of Samuel and Liberty Streets
in Charles Town. In 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau, working with the American
Missionary Association, established schools in Jefferson County for the newly
freed slaves. The first black school in Charles Town was at the residence of
Achilles Dixon, located on the corner of Liberty and Samuel Streets. Enis
Wilson, a student from Storer College, became the first black teacher at the
Liberty Street School. Other teachers at the Liberty Street School
included Annie Dudley and E. H. Oliver. The home served as a school until the county began its
own system for providing public education for black students and built a brick
schoolhouse on Harewood Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue) sometime
between 1867 and 1874.
Charles Town housed the first publicly-funded African American high school in West Virginia, the Page-Jackson High School. This was the second African American school in Charles Town, following the first school located in the Achilles Dixon home.