The Thyne Institute began educating African Americans in Mecklenburg County, Virginia around 1876. J. H. Ashenhurst, the son of a pastor, saw the need for schooling the African American population and began teaching wherever space was available. John Thyne deeded property to the United Presbyterian Church and built a two-story African-American schoolhouse which opened in 1878. The school became the first organized school for African Americans in Mecklenburg County, in operation until 1951. The school was accredited by the Virginia Department of Education in 1914.
A boarding school was formed to accommodate students from Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton Roads. Enrollment peaked around 1950 with a student body of 650 and a graduating class of more than 140. The school was purchased in 1946 by the Mecklenburg County Public Education System. By 1970 the buildings were torn down and a new elementary school was built.
The Thyne Institute Memorial Circle of Friends Inc. was formed in 1998 for the purpose of developing a memorial for the Thyne Institute and interpreting the education that took place at this site.
Memorial site is in Chase City, VA. None of the original buildings remain. One mile north of Chase City on the left of Highway 47.
Geographical and Contact Information
30935 Highway 49
Chase City, Virginia