The history of Mecklenburg County’s Averett School and Wharton Memorial Baptist Church and Wharton Cemetery site—together known as the Wharton Memorial Church complex—involves the tireless energy and vision of the Reverend George Douglas Wharton (1862-1932). After graduating from Hampton Institute in 1880, Wharton came to Averett to lead a small congregation that met in a two-room log dwelling. During the next 50 years, he boosted the community and church’s growth by founding a school (in the log dwelling), operating a country store, and starting a land company to allow African Americans to purchase property. His efforts led to Averett’s emergence as a relatively self-sufficient Black crossroads hamlet, representative of similar communities that arose throughout Virginia and the South during Reconstruction. Today’s church complex is central to that story. In 1882, Wharton led construction of a new church for the congregation of Beautiful Plain Baptist Church. The congregation replaced that building in 1897 when it constructed its second church in a late Gothic Revival style. Renamed “Wharton Memorial Baptist Church” in 1922, that building burned in 1940 and the current church arose that same year on the same footprint and in a similar Gothic Revival style. Today’s extant Averett School, constructed 1910, replaced the log dwelling that housed the school. The new building served as the local primary school until 1940. The building was expanded in 1959 when it transitioned to a community gathering space and home for Averett Union Masonic Lodge. The Wharton Cemetery, formally organized in 1894, contains at least 240 marked graves and may hold numerous unmarked graves.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
Photo credit: Marc Wagner/DHR, 2014