The John J. Wright Museum

Cultural & Educational Center

History. Education. Culture. An Inspirational Journey.

The John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum is currently closed to the public.

The John J. Wright Museum, located within the John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center, adheres to the directives of the Spotsylvania County School District and the Virginia Department of Education. We will continue to follow the guidelines put before us.

Please visit the website as well as our Facebook page for updates. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you soon. If you have any questions, please email


About the Museum

Learn more about the history and the growth of the museum. 

“For a People had a Mind to Work”

A Century of African American Education in Spotsylvania County

In 1905, members of black churches in Spotsylvania collected $1.25 to start the first school for their children. The call came from teacher John J. Wright, who thought the county’s black youth deserved better education. A two-story school building came into being fifteen years later. After it burned down in 1941, a larger and sturdier structure John J. Wright Consolidated School replaced it. Today, the building still stands serving students of all races and backgrounds.

In Spotsylvania, like everywhere else, African Americans’ quest for education was not easy. Against prejudice and discrimination, locals fought with persistence and resilience. Their hard-earned nickels and dimes bought land and bricks, paid off bank loans, and helped with teacher salaries. Belief in education’s power to improve lives drove the local African American community to establish the first black secondary school in the county, uphold its subsequent integration in 1968, and since then support education for all youth in Spotsylvania.

The Mission of the JJW Museum is to celebrate Spotsylvania by collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to collect, archive, share and facilitate learning about the interactive history of education, cultures and civic life of the county’s African American citizens. In doing so, demonstrate how those interactions within the wider population contributed to the richness of Spotsylvania County’s development.
John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum features a permanent exhibit about the history of Spotsylvania education tracing the history of African-American education through the leadership of its 15 principals, from the first principal, John J. Wright in the mid-1920s, through integration and the last African American principal, Pitman C. Rock, to its closure as a traditional middle school in 2006 under the leadership of Chester Mummau.
The museum honors the legacy of the school and the man for whom it was named and serves to acknowledge the numerous contributions of both to the community. The museum shows the history of what was first the Spotsylvania Training School, also known as the “Snell Training School.

John J Wright

Meet our Founder and learn about the school that he and the Spotsylvania Community created.

History Rooted in Our Community

“Brethren, let’s not come to words of misunderstanding.

The Cause for which we stand is too great.”

The late Mr. J.J. Wright was born on the Blanton Farm in the year of 1863, at Massaponax, Virginia. There with his parents, brothers and sisters, he grew and waxed strong for the cause he was destined to undertake.

He attended the public school in his neighborhood. At an early age he showed an unusual intellectual ability and soon conceived the idea that his race would never be recognized except through the channels of education. So he resolved that he must first prepare to help foster this movement.

His parents, just out from slavery were unable to furnish him the means whereby his education might be obtained. However, he was one youth who resolved “That I can but perish if I go, I am resolved to try.’ With such determination in mind, he worked and studied, and studied and worked, until he completed the prescribed course of study at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute, now Virginia State College, in 1894. This course he completed with honors.

He returned home after his graduation ready for service. He was appointed to teach at the same school in his community that he attended when he was a mere lad. He was the first teacher of color to teach at the school. He taught in this school for twenty-one years.

Soon after finishing school he married Miss Jennie Garnett, a schoolmate of his school days. To this union, one child was born, Jennie Wright Boyer; the mother making the supreme sacrifice that the baby may live to cherish the father and serve humanity. After a few years, he met and married Miss Cora Jackson, who toiled beside him with every good effort of life.

The late Professor J. J. Wright’s strongest point was neither his physical nor mental fitness, though he possessed them to the highest degree. The factor which set him more from the masses of men was his moral integrity, that quality which certainly all leaders of men should possess.
He was always a man of pure ideas and ideals, a model of manly virtue and noble strength and lived above moral reproach. His family knew this and loved him; his community knew this and praised him; his country knew this and followed him.

-Mrs. Sadie Coates Combs and Miss Maude L. Burke, 1937

Thomas Lewis Exhibition

The museum recently opened the Thomas Lewis exhibition. Unfortunately, due to the COVID19 pandemic, the museum has temporarily closed. But all is not lost! The museum staff photographed Mr. Lewis’ collection and will soon feature here.

In the Community

Historical Marker

The Snell Training School, built by Alfred Fairchild, opened here in 1913 and was for decades the county’s only public high school for black students. Renamed for John J. Wright in 1940, it burned in 1941 and was rebuilt in 1952. The building became a middle school in 1968 after desegregation was completed. In 2008, after a major renovation, the building was designated the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center.

John J. Wright Day

The Spotsylvania County Board of supervisors in August of 2019 declared by proclamation that November 18, 2019, and each November 18th thereafter as John J. Wright Day.

Board of Supervisors Chairman, Dr. Paul Trampe, presented the proclamation to
John J. Wright Museum Board Vice-President Roger Braxton on August 13, 2019.

African American Heritage Trail

Coinsiding with the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment. A Colourful Journey provides a wonderful opportunity to explore where the community has been and offers the opportunity for participants and visitors alike, to be engaged in dialog and to become a vital part in sharing Americas colourful history.

Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum

7565 Courthouse Road

Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA 22551

John J. Wright Museum

7565 Courthouse Rd.
Spotsylvania, VA 22551
540-582-7583, ext. 5545
Museum Hours:
Thursday-Saturday, 10-3