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Fessenden Academy (Martin, Fla.)


Historical Note

In 1868, a school was established by the African American community of Martin, Florida, under the leadership of Thomas B. "Father" Ward. It had a faculty of young, white women from the Northeast and from Florida. The first appointment of an African American teacher occurred in 1877. A new school building was constructed in 1886 to accommodate three hundred students, but it was soon seen as inadequate for the growing enrollment.

In 1890, Ferdinand Stone Fessenden, a visiting wealthy Bostonian, was greatly impressed by the community's involvement in the school and he financed the materials needed to raise a classroom building, a shop, and a teachers' college on the three-hundred-acre property. The AMA then accepted the school for sponsorship, naming it Fessenden Academy. The 1910s through 1927 saw a great expansion of facilities at the Academy.

John A. Buggs was appointed director in 1942, and for the next two years an experimental curriculum was implemented. The AMA commenced a plan for the addition of a vocational education unit in1945. New state regulations made mandatory the increase of salaries and costs of construction beginning in 1947. The enrollment of veterans expanded the vocational curriculum through 1951.

During the late 1940s, the AMA attempted unsuccessfully to sell Fessenden to the State of Florida, so that it could be expanded into a junior college and retain its liberal arts component. The 1950-1951 academic year was the last at Fessenden. The school's assets were liquidated at end of 1951 spring semester. The real estate was purchased by Marion County and operated as a vocational school for African Americans. Following the closing of Fessenden, all school records were subsequently removed to the AMA's New York headquarters, and John A. Buggs relocated to California.


American Missionary Association archives 1969 addendum

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

American Missionary Association archives addenda

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 001-1
Scope and Contents The 1969 addendum and later addenda to the American Missionary Association archives are mostly twentieth century in scope, covering two main subject areas. The first is the association's numerous schools. These are considered "field" records, or, the fruits of the Association's missionary work outside of its New York City office. The Addendum is divided into three series: Series 1 covers field-related work, mainly the AMA schools; Series 2 covers projects that were run directly form the New...
Dates: Created: 1849-1991; Other: Date acquired: 03/31/1969