Sumner School

Parkersburg, WV

Sumner High School in Parkersburg, established in January 1862, was reputedly the first free school south of the Mason-Dixon Line and was established two years before West Virginia had a public school system. The school was sponsored by several members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, then standing on the hillside above Green Street. In 1889, the present site of Sumner School was bought. The name Sumner came from a renowned Massachusetts senator, Charles Sumner, a strict abolitionist and foremost advocate of anti-slavery in Congress. Sumner gave such a forceful speech against the evils of slavery that it angered one of his fellow congressman, Preston Brooks, to the extent that he struck Sumner several times with his heavy cane. Sumner School once served the entire Parkersburg black community, grades 1-12, before closing in 1955.

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