Vibrant center for non profits serving diverse communities

233 4th Street, NW
Charlottesville, VA 22903



Who We Are...and Why !

The Jefferson School Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, owns and manages the Jefferson School City Center.... a vibrant community center located in the historic, landmark Jefferson School (1865).  The Jefferson School City Center opened in 2013, and celebrated the 150th anniversary of the 

original Jefferson School in 2015. 

The Board of Directors of the Jefferson School Foundation includes:  

Martin V Burks, III, Chair

Julian Taliaferro, Treasurer

Dr. Marcus Martin

Deborah Bell-Burks 


The Early History

At the end of the Civil War, the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society sent a teacher, Anna Gardner, to Charlottesville to open a school for former slaves. She named the school, “Jefferson School” after the nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, whom she admired. In 1865, the first Jefferson School was a one-room school in the Delevan Hotel on West Main Street that had served as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers.  

In 1869, the school grew to three grades and moved to a building near the Charlottesville train station. And, in 1894, land at the corner of Fourth and Commerce Streets (now part of the school’s current parking lot), was transferred to the City for the construction of the Jefferson Colored Graded/Elementary School. Jefferson High School, completed in 1926, was one of only ten African American high schools in Virginia at that time.  For more history, visit


The Legacy

The legacy of Jefferson School is a remarkable one. It has served for over 125 years as the cornerstone for African American citizens of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County, providing a venue and focal point for their emergence as a dynamic and vital part of the community’s social history during the 20th century. It represents a spirit of tenacity and dedication to the highest national ideals of equality and fairness, inclusiveness and respect.  And today, it marks the coming together of the African American and white communities of Charlottesville in this vibrant center for nonprofits serving diverse communities. 

A testament to the durability of the human spirit.

Excerpt from Jefferson School National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, August 15, 2005.  

Resource:   The Reflector, An African-American newspaper depicting African-American Life in Charlottesville, VA during the Jim Crow Era.

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