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Williamsburg Bray School

Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary have identified a small, white building tucked away on the William & Mary campus as the structure that once housed the Williamsburg Bray School, an 18th-century institution dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children.

Now, we are working with the university to ensure that current and future generations learn about the complex history of what is likely the oldest extant building in the United States dedicated to the education of Black children – and the stories of those who were part of it.

On February 10, 2023, the Williamsburg Bray School building will be moving to its permanent home in Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area. The move will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the school's current location at 524 Prince George Street on the William & Mary campus. The structure will then travel North Boundary Street, through the Richmond and Jamestown Road intersection to West Francis Street, where it will be placed at the intersection with South Nassau Street.

Community members will be able to observe the move from the east end of Duke of Gloucester Street and the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Paid parking is available for observers in and around Merchants Square and the City of Williamsburg parking garage located on North Henry Street.

Members of the community are also invited to attend a ceremony commemorating the Bray School at 2:00 p.m. on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Free parking will be available in the Art Museums parking lot.

You can read more about the move in a press release here.


October 12, 2022 – Researchers and historians at William & Mary and archaeologists and preservationists at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation are committed to fully researching the story of the children of the Williamsburg Bray School. Learn more here.

May 10-13, 2022 – The Bray School Lab and William & Mary host their first Descendant Outreach Week to speak with potential and known descendants of Williamsburg Bray School Students. Learn More here.

March 21, 2022
– Original hand sawn pine flooring found underneath the 1925 remodeling of the Bray-Digges Building Learn more here.

February 19, 2022
– The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awards a $5-million grant supporting the Williamsburg Bray School Project, an initiative spearheaded by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and William & Mary. Read more here.

October 2021
– Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary announce future location of the Williamsburg Bray School and launch joint initiative to research the building’s complex history and expand the understanding of the founding era. Read more here.

June 2021
 – William & Mary forms a a team-based interdisciplinary research initiative to investigate the Bray School’s legacy, including the stories of its students and teacher. Read more from William & Mary here.

February 2021 – Researchers shared news of this initial finding and plans to research and relocate the Bray-Digges House at a special event on February 25.

“The most important part of the school is, for me, to share the story and the legacy and connect the communities that were most impacted by the school, which were the Black students who studied in it and took that education and made something of it both because of and in spite of the instruction they were receiving.”

—Nicole Brown, actor interpreter who interprets Bray School teacher Ann Wager on NPR’s All Things Considered

Learn More

William & Mary Bray School Lab

Learn more about William & Mary’s Bray School Lab, and their work to document the school’s history to understand its complex legacy.

Ann Wager

After being widowed, Ann Wager made a living as the only teacher for the Bray School, educating enslaved and free African American children in Williamsburg for 14 years.

This was the Bray School

The World of the Williamsburg Bray School

What Can Paint Analysis Tell Us About the Bray School?

On a Mission


Video Playlist

Listen to BEN FRANKLIN'S WORLD Podcast

Additional Resources

Learn even more about Williamsburg Bray School by exploring these resources from both our museum and other trusted institutions.

Donate Today

Support the research, relocation, restoration and interpretation of the Bray-Digges House. Your gift will allow the partnership between Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary to more fully understand and disseminate this critical part of Americans' shared history.

Make a Gift Today

Plans to research, relocate, restore and interpret the Bray-Digges House are possible thanks in part to a $400,000 grant from the Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation

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