First Black School in Charles Town/Achilles Dixon Home
Plaque commemorating the first school at the Dixon Home. Courtesy of the JCBHPS
Undated black and white photo of the Achilles Dixon School. Courtesy of the JCBHPS
late 1800s photo of Philip Jackson (one of the namesakes of Page-Jackson HS) with his students at the Harewood school after leaving its original location in the Dixon home.
The Harewood brick school as it stands today on MLK Jr. Ave.
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.