Jackson P. Burley High School

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Jackson P. Burley High School in Charlottesville, named for a local African American educator and community leader, stands on land acquired from Burley’s widow. The building represents a rare instance in which two localities—Charlottesville and Albemarle County—sought to achieve “separate but equal” educational facilities during segregation—and at a time when successful legal suits underway elsewhere in Virginia challenged the unequal and overcrowded conditions in black schools. The agreement to construct a new segregated high school for blacks resulted from the overcrowded and seriously insufficient facilities for such students in both jurisdictions. Absent pending legal challenges, and after Charlottesville built a large modern high school for white students in 1940, the city and county jointly constructed, owned, and operated Burley High School to serve both jurisdictions’ black students. Opened in 1951, Jackson P. Burley High School was part of an effort by many jurisdictions in Virginia to support segregation by constructing new and well-equipped separate but equal high schools for African American students. That approach ended when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schooling was unconstitutional. Architecturally, the Burley school building is one of the first schools in the region designed in the modern Stripped Classical style. The two-story, U-shaped building incorporates an auditorium at one end and a gymnasium at the other. Although the school building has had several additions and alterations, it retains its architectural integrity. In 1967, the city and county ended school segregation, and the building now houses Jackson P. Burley Middle School, now solely owned by Albemarle County.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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