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New London Academy was established on December 1, 1795, as part of Thomas Jefferson's plan to increase educational opportunities in Virginia. Although it is the oldest continually operating school in Virginia, it has changed dramatically over time. It was first established as a school for boys. The first girl was admitted as a special student in 1879. The Virginia General Assembly agreed to lease the school to the counties of Bedford and Campbell in 1887. Today it serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade as part of the Bedford County Public Schools. Throughout the years it has been in use it has changed in use as well as the physical structures themselves. For example, The original frame structure was replaced with a more substantial brick building in 1837. The academy building has been restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • Photo from National Register nomination. https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/historic-registers/009-0047/
  • The main historic New London Academy building.  March 2019.
  • Presently the main historic structure has this Alumni Plaque. March 2019.

In the late eighteenth century, New London, Virginia had yet to acquire and a proper education building. The hunger for accessible education brought forth the need to establish an official school in a proper American education building. That led the New London Academy to be chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in December 1795, this made the school more official. The Academy could be seen as more trustworthy because of the charter and the fact that is had a board of trustees. Thomas Jefferson was a big supporter of the school. In fact, he had a grandson who attended the academy. 

In early 1775, the Academy was established on its present campus near New London as a classical school for boys. The school became co-educational in the 1870s and in the late-1880s became affiliated with the new public school system. From 1910 until the early 1960s New London served as an agricultural high school. Since 1964 it has served as an elementary school.  New London Academy is the only public school in Virginia to operate under a charter from the General Assembly. It is the oldest continually operating school in Virginia.  

In 1795 when the school was first opened there were a few structures: the academy building and a large enclosed brick church well.  Later there was the president's house and a detached kitchen.  The original academy building was a square frame structure. Later in 1837, it was replaced by a two-story, brick building with a hipped roof, interior end chimneys, and enlarged windows. The structure was built in Greek Revival style.  The historic building originally had a square frame that would later be updated with a brick structure. It also used to have a porch in the front that had white square columns that were original to the structure.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The detached kitchen still stands today. It was built in 1797 because during that time it was normal to have a separate building for a kitchen due to the danger that could happen with the chimneys needed. The kitchen building at the New London Academy has served many uses during the years. The original use, of course, was for cooking so there is a central chimney that has two openings and hearths on either side of both rooms.  Other than being used as a kitchen, it has also served as storage, offices for faculty, and even a music studio in 1890. 

New London Academy continues to be a prominent part of Lynchburg's school system and is seen as an important part of Lynchburg's education history. 


"History of NLA," New London Academy. https://bedfordnla.sharpschool.net/about_us/history_of_nla 
London Academy," 1971. https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/VLR_to_transfer/PDFNoms/009-0047_New_London_Academy_1972_Final_Nomination.pdf
Siddons, James. The Spirit Of New London Academy. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books Inc., 1994.