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Sotterley Presents: People and Perspectives – Hidden in Plain Sight with Matthew Webster

On September 29, 1760 the Associates of Dr. Bray in London established a school for the education of enslaved and free Black children in Williamsburg, Virginia. The school was one of the original four, with others located in Providence, New York, and Philadelphia. The school would operate until 1774 when a combination of the passing of teacher Ann Wager and increasing tensions with England caused the school to close. The building now stands as the earliest surviving school dedicated to Black education in North America. This lecture will discuss the complexity of the history and research that allowed the building to remain “hidden in plain sight”, revealed its identity, and the restoration efforts at the Bray school today. ​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​Matthew Webster is the Executive Director of the Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation and Research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. In this role he oversees the preservation of 603 structures in the National Landmark Historic Area, the 18,000 piece architectural fragment collection, architectural research, and historic interiors. Prior to Williamsburg he served as Director of Preservation at Drayton Hall (1754) in Charleston, South Carolina. He also served as Director of Restoration for George Washington’s Fredericksburg Foundation in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he […]

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