The Bishop Payne Divinity School began here in 1878 at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Normal and Industrial School. For 71 years it prepared black men for the ministry in the church. Giles B. Cooke (1838-1937) headed the vocational school and helped develop the divinity school. In 1884 the school was named after the Rt. Rev. John Payne, the first bishop of Liberia. Prominent students included James Solomon Russell (1857-1935), who founded Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, and George Freeman Bragg Jr. (1853-1940), who became a priest and civil rights advocate. In 1949 the school merged with the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.
Original Sponsor: Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal)
Geographic Location: Petersburg
Physical Description of Location: Proposed Location: 400 Block of S. West Street, Petersburg, VA
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