John Wright

John J. Wright

During the early 1900’s, secondary education came to Spotsylvania’s African American children. It began with a motion made by landowner, farmer, registered voter, and Branch fork Baptist Church trustee Lewis Terrell in a meeting in 1908. The meeting was chaired by teacher and community leader, John J. Wright. Several years later, the first classroom open with 47 children and by 1922, an 18 room building of classrooms and boarding facilities, all constructed by Alfred (Allie) Fairchild and his work crew.

Spotsylvania public education system evolved from one-room schools for elementary education scattered in communities throughout the county. The last African American one-room schools were closed in 1952 with the opening of the John J. Wright Consolidated School. In 1968, when Spotsylvania schools were integrated, the school became John J. Wright Intermediate School for grades 7 and 8 serving all students in the southern end of the county. It later became known as John J. Wright Middle School for grades 6, 7 and 8.

The purpose of an education is to reach out, raise understanding, and share with those who don’t know.

This legacy is honored by the Spotsylvania School Board. The original school that evolved into the John J. Wright Middle School has been renovated as an alternative place of learning. The library of that building now houses the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum.

The Board of Supervisors allocated $58,000 towards furnishing the museum and countless donations helped to produce the more than 100 exhibits coordinated by author and researcher Terry Miller.

Take a brief journey back and view a few photos in our gallery.

Scroll through some of the past events below. Visit our museum to learn more!

1873

Public education established
with segregated one-room schools.

1914

Snell Training School –
first high school for
black students, built by the
Spotsylvania Sunday School Union
under the direction of John J. Wright.

1922

Building completed.
(12 bedrooms, 4 classrooms,
4 basement rooms)
John J. Wright was principal.

1927

Loan paid off. Cornerstone laid.

1929

Ethel Dandridge appointed
Supervisor of Colored Schools.

1931

John J. Wright died.

1941

Snell school destroyed by fire.

1942

Transition from private
to public school.

1950

Groundbreaking ceremony
for new building.

1951

Cornerstone laid for
new building,
John J. Wright
Consolidated School.

1952

Building occupied.

1959

Alexander L. Scott
resigns after 23 years
as principal.

1962

First 12th grade class
graduates (since 1933).

1968

Schools integrated.
Pitman C. Rock, the
last African American
principal.

2006

J.J.W. Middle School
closes doors as a
traditional school.

2010

Dedication ceremony for
John J. Wright Educational
and Cultural Center. Museum opens!

Also visit the African American Heritage Trail page!