Central Academy

Historical Significance

Before 1959, African-American students in Botetourt attended one of the county’s several small all-black schools, such as Botetourt Training School, Eagle Rock Elementary, or Blue Ridge Elementary. While these schools housed only grades 1-7, Academy Hill in Fincastle served black students in grades 1-12. Academy Hill, established in the early 1930s, was partly a renovated bus garage and had pot-bellied stoves and outdoor bathrooms. As there was no gym, students exercised and played outside, mostly on a gravel parking lot.

According to the March 21, 1957 issue of The Fincastle Herald, about 65 African-American residents of Botetourt County came before the Board of Supervisors that week and “earnestly but good naturedly told of their deplorably inadequate facilities which they have patiently sought to have improved for 27 years.” Indeed, these black residents wanted a new school which would be up to par with white schools in the area. As a result of their demands, Central Academy was built in Fincastle, on land bought from an African-American man named Alexander D. Fairfax. The school became Botetourt County’s consolidated black elementary and high school, housing grades 1-12. Central Academy opened in the fall of 1959, and all former black schools in the county, including Academy Hill, closed at this time.

The new school building contained nineteen classrooms, a cafeteria, a library, a gymnasium, music rooms, locker and shower rooms, coaches’ offices, industrial arts and mechanical drawing facilities, and more. Beginning in 1961, students were allowed to choose a course of study from among three programs: academic, vocational, or general. Enrollment for the 1962-63 school year was about 473 students. In the years that followed, between 500 and 600 black students from all over Botetourt County regularly attended Central Academy.

Following desegregation of Botetourt County schools in 1966, Central Academy closed as an all-black school and became Botetourt Intermediate School, serving most of the county’s seventh graders. In subsequent years additions were made to accommodate eighth grade students. By the 1990s a much larger student population necessitated further expansion, and planning began for both renovation of Botetourt Intermediate (briefly renamed William Clark Middle School, but eventually named "Central Academy Middle School") and construction of a new middle school in the southern end of the county.

Physical Description

Central Academy Middle School, formerly Central Academy, is located at 367 Poor Farm Road in Fincastle, the Botetourt County Seat.

Geographical and Contact Information

367 Poor Farm Road
Fincastle, Virginia
Phone: 540-473-8333
Fax: 540-473-8398