African American History in Goochland

African American’s have a long history in Goochland County, and we have several historic sites and buildings dedicated to remembering African American history in Goochland.

Early History and Slave Quarters

Goochland County has two historic slave quarters that remind us of the horrendous injustices that African Americans faced during their early history in Colonial America. These complexes give us a peek into the life of slaves in Colonial America and Goochland.

The Dover Slave Quarter Complex is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Virginia’s few surviving groupings of slave quarters. The five-building complex was erected after 1843 when Ellen Bruce, who owned the property, married James M. Morson and began construction of the Dover mansion. Originally identical one-story brick structures with high-hipped roofs, each building contained two rooms served by a central chimney. The center building was enlarged; the motivation for this arrangement is thought to have been aesthetic. The Dover Slave Quarter Complex was positioned to form a picturesque incident in the landscape within the viewshed of the Dover mansion. 

In addition to the Dover Slave Quarter Complex, the Historic Tuckahoe Plantation, the boy hood home of Thomas Jefferson, has surviving slave quarters for people to visit and see. Historic Tuckahoe offers self-guided tour guides for those interested in exploring the property and plantation. Historic Tuckahoe has the records of the last slave to be born on the Tuckahoe, Harriet Wesley, and has additional history on Harriet, who passed in 1926. 

African American Schools in Goochland

Goochland has a deep history when it comes to African American schools. In 1921, the Fauquier Training School went under construction and was then opened in 1923. When it first opened, the Fauquier Training School served grades primer to seventh grade – which was the highest grade of public education for African Americans in Goochland. In 1925, ten students entered the eighth grade, and from 1926 to 1928, the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades were added. In 1929, Fauquier Training School held its first graduation ceremony. 

Without a doubt, Fauquier, a new institution in the community, needed many things. Various organizations and individuals contributed. One organization, whose sole purpose was to help supply some of these needs and to coordinate the relationship between the Board of Education and the Black Community, was formed. This organization was the County-Wide League of Goochland County. It was composed of all the Black Elementary Schools and Fauquier. This league played a major role in the development of secondary education for Blacks in Goochland.

After much hard work, Fauquier finally became accredited in May of 1936. Almost fourteen months after the school was accredited, disaster struck. Fauquier was destroyed by fire on the night of May 6, 1937. A county wide exhibit had been scheduled for May 7, 1937.

Central High School opened in 1938, replacing the Fauquier Training School. The newly built Central High School was a six-room brick building that was later enlarged. The Public Works Administration, a New Deal agency of President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, provided a grant to build Central High School on an 11-acre campus. The school received a Virginia Historical Landmark in 2021 and is now Goochland’s High School Cultural and Educational Center. Click here for a timeline of Central High School.

Goochland also has two Rosenwald schools on the National Register of Historic Places, the First Union School and Second Union School. The Second Union School was built in 1918 and is now a museum open to the public. The First Union School was built in 1926 and operated until 1958 and landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

School Map for HS