UPDATED: 9-4-2016


Sumner School, built on the east side of Avery Street just north of Tenth Street, was established during the Civil War and became the nation's first free school for black children below the Mason-Dixon line. Led for over forty years in the early 20th century by Principal J. Rupert Jefferson, it stood as Parkersburg's black all-grade school, from first to twelfth grade, until the Supreme Court ended school segregation in 1954. Sumner closed down in 1955. It was later reopened for children with mental disabilities. Eventually the school was demolished except for its gymnasium, which had been built in 1926. Today, thanks to the efforts of Rae Browne and others, the building is the Sumnerite African-American History Museum and Multipurpose Center. Most photos below come from the Sumner 1945-46 Sumnerium yearbook owned by Gloria Powell Stanford.

Sumner in 1955, shortly after closing down in late
1954 and being converted to the Sunshine School.





The final senior class (1955) of Sumner High School had seven members: Virginia Lee Hatcher, Harold Seymour, William Dewey Seymour, Floyd Ray Smith, Joseph Louis Jones, Creda Ann Bartlett Jr., and Lois Jean Jones. Harold Seymour and Creda Ann Bartlett are deceased, but at last report the other five are still alive. Lois Jean Jones Daniels and Louis Jones are still in Parkersburg, Floyd Smith is in Georgia, Virginia Lee Hatcher Seymour is in Canton, Ohio, and William Dewey Seymour is in Dayton, Ohio. They did not have a 50th reunion. Thanks to Debra Seymour Floyd, daughter of Virginia Lee and Harold Seymour, for the update.

The 1941 Sumner High football team practiced at the Parkersburg High School stadium.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Bondurant and the Hicks Family)

The 1949 Sumner High Golden Knights basketball team.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Bondurant and the Hicks Family)

Janet Hicks was Miss Sumner High of 1953 during the
Parkersburg Old-Fashion Bargain Day Parade.
(Photo courtesy of Janet Hicks Bondurant)

Sumner was damaged when the city's water tanks atop Quincy Hill broke in 1909, smashing trees into the rear wall.

The Sumner basketball team was called the Golden Knights.


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