Ebenezer Academy, said to be the oldest Methodist school in American, had its genesis in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Some of the brightest lights of early Methodism such as Bishop Francis Asbury and Edward Dromgoole had a hand in its establishment, thought the exact date of its construction is not known. Razed in the twentieth century, the building was photographed in its later years. It is located in Brunswick County.
The structure consisted of a ground story of native stone with a
second story enclosed within a gambrel roof. The two end walls were each
centered with an integral stone chimney. At the second story level the
end walls were of wood frame sheathed with weatherboards. Although we
have no description of interior subdivision, the photographs and
dimensions suggest a plan of two rooms flanking a center hall on each
The building was used for academic purposes until the mid-nineteenth
century though Jeremiah Lee records that it passed out of Methodist
control before 1810. Some of Brunswick’s most prominent families sent
their sons to be educated there.
History records several notable events which took place at Ebenezer
during the nineteenth century. In April 1826 interested Presbyterians
assembled there to establish the first organized Presbyterian
congregation in Brunswick County. In 1829 a subscription of $20,000 was
raised in Brunswick to entice the proposed Randolph-Macon College to
locate near Ebenezer Academy. This offer was rejected in favor of
Mecklenburg County. Ebenezer Academy became the training grounds for a
company of Confederate soldiers organized as the “Ebenezer Greys” under
the command of Dr. Thomas J. Taylor. They saw action at Fort Donelson
and Gaines Mill as Company E, 56th Virginia Infantry Regiment.
After the conflict the building was used for residential purposes
which it served until neglect and disrepair caused it to be vacated.
Early in the twentieth century a group of Methodists in the Petersburg
District became interested in saving the old Academy building and formed
a board of trustees which acquired nineteen acres surrounding the
decaying structure. They determined that the building had deteriorated
beyond feasible recall so it was razed leaving about two feet of the
exterior stone walls standing. Within this enclosure a pyramidal
monument was erected of stones salvaged from the walls. In this state
the site has continued under the auspices of the Methodist Church. At
one time the grounds were considered as a possible location for
construction of housing for retired clergy.