College of Henrico

Wren Bldg 111 Jamestown Rd

Written By VAMONDE

Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions

It was not William and Mary, nor Harvard. The country's first educational institution to be officially chartered and founded was the College Lands or College of Henrico in May 1619. King James I gave his approval for officers at the Virginia Company of London to build a school for young Powhatan Indian boys to be classically educated as English scholars would be – literacy, arithmetic, and more. In addition to that classic education, planting technologies and Christianity would be taught. Approximately 10,000 acres were granted, and a company of workers began work that year. Eventually, influential George Thorpe would be appointed to head it, but men like John Rolfe would become designated advisors and teachers for those students.

It would have become America’s first permanent college if it were not destroyed in the Powhatan Indian military offensive on March 22, 1622. This college was an attempt to merge the English and Powhatan cultures, thus continuing the steps taken by the Pocahontas conversion and marriage in 1614.

Explore where history meets real life in Virginia

Cover photo credit:

How the Stories of Virginia Shaped America

College of Henrico

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