Saint Paul's College (Virginia)

Coordinates: 36°45′42″N 77°50′58″W / 36.76167°N 77.84944°W / 36.76167; -77.84944
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Saint Paul's College
Former names
Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School
Saint Paul’s Polytechnic Institute
Motto"challenge by choice"
TypePrivate historically black college
Location, ,
United States

36°45′42″N 77°50′58″W / 36.76167°N 77.84944°W / 36.76167; -77.84944
Colors   Black and Orange
NicknameTigers and Lady Tigers
St. Paul's College
Saint Paul's College (Virginia) is located in Virginia
Saint Paul's College (Virginia)
Saint Paul's College (Virginia) is located in the United States
Saint Paul's College (Virginia)
LocationSt. Paul's College campus, Lawrenceville, Virginia
Coordinates36°45′39″N 77°51′0″W / 36.76083°N 77.85000°W / 36.76083; -77.85000
Area2 acres (0.81 ha)
Architectural styleLate Gothic Revival
NRHP reference No.79003032[1]
VLR No.251-0003[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 27, 1979[2]
Designated VLRMarch 20, 1979[3]

Saint Paul's College was a private historically black college in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Saint Paul's College opened its doors on September 24, 1888, originally training students as teachers and for agricultural and industrial jobs.

By the late 20th century, Saint Paul's College offered undergraduate degrees for traditional college students and distant learning students in the Continuing Studies Program. The college also offered adult education to help assist working adults to gain undergraduate degrees. Saint Paul's College had a Single Parent Support System Program that assisted single teen parents pursuing a college education.

The college had long struggled with significant financial difficulties, culminating in a court conflict in 2012 with its regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Throughout the 2012–2013 school year, the college sought to merge with another institution, but on June 3, 2013, the board announced the college would close on June 30, 2013.[4]


Saint Paul's eleven-building campus was situated on 185 acres (0.75 km2) of green hills. Older buildings were constructed by students and donated by friends of the College. The college has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]


The chapel at the school, built by students, c. 1910

On September 24, 1888, James Solomon Russell of the Protestant Episcopal Church founded the Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School, with fewer than a dozen students. The school was intended chiefly to develop African-American teachers, a critical and prestigious job in the late 19th and early 20th-century South.[5] In 1914 the school boasted that "The location of the school in the heart of the Black Belt of Virginia, with a Negro population of 100,000 almost at its very doors, is most favorable for the prosecution of uplift work."[6]

In 1941 the name of the institution was changed to Saint Paul's Polytechnic Institute when the state granted the school authority to offer a four-year program. The first bachelor's degree was awarded in 1944. In 1957 the college adopted its present name to reflect its liberal arts and teacher education curricula.[7]

In June 2012, the college's regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, stripped the college of its accreditation. Although the college had been on probation, it lost its accreditation for "violations concerning financial resources, institutional effectiveness in support services, institutional effectiveness in academics and student services, lack of terminal degrees for too many faculty members, and a lack of financial stability."[8] The college sued the accreditor, and two months later a court issued a preliminary injunction reinstating the college's probationary accreditation to protect it during further legal proceedings.[9] Although supporters worked on plans to have St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, North Carolina, another historically black university of Episcopal heritage, acquire St Paul's,[10] the deal was abandoned in May 2013.[11] Shortly thereafter, St. Paul's College reported to SACS that it would close on June 30, 2013.[4]

In 2017 the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which had assumed ownership of most of the former campus, sold the property to a Chinese-related firm that has not announced its plans.[12]


The college focused on liberal arts, social sciences, education, business, mathematics, and natural sciences. It was committed to the development of "students who will be equipped to live effectively in a global society."[13]

Student support[edit]

Saint Paul's College developed the Single Parent Support System (SPSS), the only program of its kind in the United States. Initiated in 1987, the SPSS was an on-campus residential educational program designed for single parents with two or fewer children between the ages of two months to nine years old.[14]

The program required students to attend the college year round on a full-time basis and maintain a projected graduation progression of three to four years, with a 2.5 G.P.A. each year. A significant aspect of the SPSS was a faculty mentoring system that assisted participants with choosing a major. Tutorial assistance and counseling services were available, and the college provided seminars that focused on academic success, transition to college, career planning, and parenting. The college also provided child care assistance.[14]


Saint Paul's athletic teams were known as the Tigers and Lady Tigers. The college was a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) from 1923–24 to 2010–11.[15]

Saint Paul's competed in 14 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports included baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis and track & field; while women's sports included basketball, bowling, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

The college discontinued its athletic programs in July 2011 in an effort to alleviate financial difficulties.[16] The football team had costs of $300,000 to $400,000 annually.[17]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Virginia Landmarks Register, National Register of Historic Places: Updated Through DHR March 21, 2013 and NPS June 6, 2013 Announcements" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 27, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
  3. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Hawkins, Denise (May 31, 2013). "After 125 Years of Service, St. Paul's College Shutting Down June 30". Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  5. ^ James D. Brown, Black Education in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, pp. 244–245
  6. ^ Margaret Jefferys Hobart, Then and now (1914) p 51.
  7. ^ "History of Saint Paul's College". Saint Paul's College. 2013. Archived from the original on November 8, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  8. ^ Scott Jaschik (June 22, 2012). "Saint Paul's Loses Accreditation". Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  9. ^ "Saint Paul's College Wins Court Order to Regain Accreditation". The Chronicle of Higher Education. August 31, 2012.
  10. ^ B. Denise Hawkins (November 20, 2013). "St. Augustine's University, St. Paul's College Plan to Merge". Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  11. ^ "St. Aug's drops plans to acquire Virginia college"
  12. ^ "With sale, what's next for St. Paul's College?". 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2022.
  13. ^ "Mission of The College". Saint Paul's College. 2009. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "The Single Parent Support System Program". Saint Paul's College. 2013. Archived from the original on June 9, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  15. ^ "St. Paul's College". National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  16. ^ Eric Kolenich (May 10, 2011). "Saint Paul's to end athletics program". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  17. ^ "Historically black Va. College sees hope in sale". March 29, 2014.
  18. ^ "Billy Eckstine "Mr. B and His Band"". Big Band Library. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Leslie Hurt (September 24, 2010). "Edmonds, Helen Grey (1911-1995)". Black Past. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  20. ^ a b "Helen G. Edmonds Papers, 1936-1995". The James E. Shepard Memorial Library. North Carolina Central University. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  21. ^ Mike Millner (April 18, 2013). "CCC Progress Update: Helen Grey Edmonds Papers completed". Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement. University of North Carolina. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  22. ^ Frey, Jennifer (August 2, 1998). "TO A DEGREE, DARRELL GREEN HAS FILLED THE LAST HOLE IN HIS LIFE". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 25, 2021.

External links[edit]