On February 18, 2023, St. Emma Military Academy and St. Francis de Sales High School will be highlighted in an event hosted by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. If you've followed my blog for the last couple of years you might remember images of the ruins of the two schools. The property began its story as a plantation using enslaved people to build and maintain the large estate. In the 1890s Katherine Drexel (later St. Katherine) and her half-sister's husband Edward Morrell bought the property and founded the two high schools, St Emma (boys) and St Francis de Sales (girls) for African Americans and Natives. St Emma was the only military academy for Blacks in the U.S. The two schools graduated more than 15,000 in 70+ years of their existence.
The schools are crumbling and in ruins but the alumni are energized and doing their best to ensure the memories and legacies of the two schools remain alive. The event at the Museum will include photos from years past, an alumni discussion panel, and an historical presentation. I encourage you to come to the event, parking is easy (right behind the museum) and the information will be cool. Imagine a military high school in the middle of the woods...isolated, focused, and proud. Their last Commandant was Father Egbert Figaro, an inspirational leader whose imprint remains!
For more information and tickets ($20) please click the link. This is an important part of Virginia and U.S. history, one that must not be forgotten.
St Emma & St Francis de Sales PosterPoster advertising event at Virginia Museum of History & Culture Riverview of MansionKnown as the Big House during the years that St Emma was active Virginia Museum of History & Culture