|So here I am, back in the Mid-Atlantic region after 5 years of exploring the far northern wilds of Alaska. |
There are a lot of reasons for my return. It's an assortment of bittersweet pros and cons, including pregnancy and the sudden passing of the members of my family.
So here I am.
Sweet - from the the bitter - is that I'm very excited to be back in this exploring scene. They just don't make 'em in Alaska they way they do here in my hometown. The red brick. The musty abandoned smell. The rich history. The many many surface roads to travel down.
My first Mid-Atlantic 2.0 explore I wanted to share was something that reminded this recent Alaskan as a perfect location for a Walking Dead episode.
Overgrown and apocalyptic, let me present to you: The Institute.
Specifically, these are the remains of an African American industrial trade school that operated as the county's black school from the early 1900s until integration of the school system after Brown V. Board in the late 1950s.
Gutted, but still standing, the overgrowth provided a fantastic setting for an easy "getting back into the Mid-Atlantic explore".
This particular structure was rebuilt in the original 1908 framework after the school "mysteriously burned down" in the early 1950s.
The school was built as early 20th century public education policy began to consolidate the many small farmhouse schools throughout the County into larger institutions located near the Courthouse. At the time, African Americans were not allowed to attend the all-white school that still stands and serves as one of today's integrated elementary schools in the County. The Institute was founded and operated by the African Methodist and Episcopal Church as an alternative for African American students to receive an education - cut off from the ills of Jim Crow segregation.
It provided a 4 year education to high school students, who then could go on to receive a teaching certificate there within 2 years time. With teaching certificate and industrial training in hand, they could either attempt to receive a trade/manufacturing job, or go out to other rural counties to teach and build more African American trade schools.
Many of the graduates of the school have passed on, but some still exist in the surrounding communities. They remember the school with fondness, remarking that it gave them the foundational framework to move on to higher education - most frequently - African American institutions such as Virginia State and Hampton University.
The school operated this way until the 1960s. As the Brown V. Board Supreme Court ruling on public school integration began to be enforced across the United States, the County began consolidating its public schools. The Institute was formally closed and students of all races began attending a newer structure further from the Courthouse called Southside High School.
It's not uncommon to find remnants from the Jim Crow era as an explorer in the Mid-Atlantic or Southern United States. They serve as a reminder of what happened when our nation decided Americans should be inherently separated from one another and could not come together as a fluid community.
The Institute stands in a field overgrown and with no historical markers to alert passers-by to the history it holds: A legacy of education and a bleak period of American community relations.
|Welcome back! Looks like a nice little place with an interesting history. |
|Great pics! Welcome back |
hiker, urban explorer, mediocre photographer, university student, and local Knoxvillian.
|A nice writeup and great pictures!! |
|These are some beautiful shots, great job on the writeup as well! Welcome back to the M-A; I truly hope you find much sweetness, and healing from the bitter...and congratulations on giving up the cigs! |
Glad to see you're ready for action down here, I always enjoy seeing your work. 😊
"When you've truly done something right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."
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