The Jefferson School is one of two remaining buildings from what was once Vinegar Hill–a 20-acre predominantly Black neighborhood in the heart of Charlottesville that was bulldozed in the ’60s after being seized through eminent domain. The Jefferson School started as the only Black school in Charlottesville, only to be decommissioned when schools were desegregated. The alumni of the original school wanted a place that would celebrate the building’s history, and by extension the Black history of Charlottesville, and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (JSAAHC) opened in 2013.
Along with a permanent picture gallery that tells the story of Vinegar Hill, the JSAAHC offers rotating contemporary art exhibitions featuring artists of the diaspora, lectures, a film and theater program, as well as six annual public celebrations. It is also home to the Isabella Gibbons Local History and Digital Humanities Center, which researches the history of Albemarle County and the surrounding region from enslavement through the present.
“There is a Vinegar Hill in every single city in America,” says Leslie M. Scott Jones, assistant curator of education and public programs at JSAAHC.
You can listen to the full segment at the audio link below and learn more about the Jefferson School at their website.