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About Us


Thyne Institute began educating African Americans in Mecklenburg County, Virginia around 1876. John Johnson Ashenhurst, son of Reverend J. Y. Ashenhurst, saw the need for schooling the African American population and began teaching students in whatever space available. 


J. Y. Ashenhurst urged the United Presbyterian Board to establish a mission in Chase City, Va. In 1878 John Thyne deeded property to the Board and a two-story school was built. The United Presbyterian Board did establish a mission here and the school became the first organized high school for African Americans in Mecklenburg County. The school was expanded in 1893 when the school started boarding students. Students from as far away as Ohio and New York attended the school. However, most of the boarding students came from the Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area of the state.


The school became accredited by the Virginia Department of Education in 1914. The Mecklenburg County Public Education System purchased Thyne Institute in 1946. Enrollment peaked around 1950 with a student body of 650 and a graduating class of more than 140 students. In the fall of 1952, Thyne Institute began to operate as a public elementary school for grades 1 through 7 while students in higher grades attended the new West End High School. By 1970 the buildings were torn down and the Chase City Elementary School was built on Thyne Institute’s original site.

The Thyne Institute Marker magnifies the significant milestone made by many dedicated supporters of this very important heritage of Mecklenburg County. The Thyne Institute Memorial has been placed on the prestigious Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. As of today, it is one of a very few historical educational sites in Mecklenburg County. It is listed as site no. 36 on the trail.



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Thyne Institute Memorial Inc. Board Members


Michael Gaines


Gloria Bouldin


Jeanne Spain


Rhonda Bouldin Gaines


Melba Fowlkes

Communications Officer

Ellinor Johnson Washington

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