New Bern Academy, NC – Phase II
New Bern Academy, NC – Phase II

New Bern Academy, NC – Phase II

New Bern Academy, NC 2019:

Phase II

PROJECT PARTNER: Tryon Palace Foundation 


  • October 20-25
  • October 27 – November 1
  • November 3-8
  • November 10-15


SITE INFORMATION:         Tent camping only  Site is RV/trailer accessible  showers available

LOCATION:  The Academy is located in historic New Bern, NC. We camped offsite at Turkey Quarter Campground, located about 20-25 minutes’ drive from the jobsite. From there we carpooled into town daily. 

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. The majority of project costs are covered by our project partners and grants, but as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Project Site Description & History

This fall HistoriCorps returned to continue our preservation work on the New Bern Academy! In spring 2019, volunteers helped rehabilitate some of the building’s failing historic masonry. This October, we enjoyed a beautiful fall season while we worked on the Academy’s portico, windows, and shutters. 
Reconstructed in 1809 after the original 1776 building burned down, the New Bern Academy is a jewel that survived significant upheavals and developments in American history. Most recently it stood through 2018’s Hurricane Florence, which caused an estimated $100M in damage to the community overall. Now in its third century, the brick building needs attention so it can continue to serve the public as an historical interpretive site and museum. New Bern itself is an attractive destination for history and architecture lovers, with four historic districts to enjoy and learn from!
The New Bern Academy was founded in 1764 but not incorporated until 1766, under a legislative act that placed a tax on liquor to support the school’s funding. Edgar W. Knight, an historian of American education, wrote, “This was the first school or academy incorporated in North Carolina and this was the first law of any great importance passed in the colony on the subject of education.” Learn more here
According to the Academy’s website, “Originally a school house for both boys and girls, the New Bern Academy served as a hospital in the Civil War and in 1899 became part of the New Bern graded school system which used it for classes until 1971. Today, the Academy building’s original classrooms are home to four permanent exhibits focused on the Civil War, New Bern Architecture, and the history of the building itself.
“The New Bern Academy Museum is a Federal style two-story building constructed of Flemish-bond brick. Its form and design, especially with its central pedimented pavilion and subdued, but elegant details including the reconstructed cupola and windows crowned by flat arches, recall earlier Georgian structures like Tryon Palace. … Fire destroyed the original building in 1795, however, the present building was constructed between 1806 and 1809, and served as a school until 1972, making it one of the oldest continuously used school buildings in America. … During the Civil War, the building was converted to a military hospital to treat victims of spinal meningitis, smallpox, and yellow fever epidemics, as well as casualties of battle.”
New Bern’s Tryon Palace, which manages the Academy, was the colonial capitol of North Carolina and one-time home to the Royal Governor William Tryon. This year, Tyron Palace is celebrating its 6oth anniversary as a a state museum. Visitors to this museum can “Walk in the footsteps of colonial governors, stroll through more than 14 acres of beautifully-sculpted gardens, or travel back in time for an interactive experience that blends the 1830s with 21st-century technologies.” Learn more about the activities and tours offered by Tryon Palace here.
Volunteers on this project will enjoy giving back to a community in which history is a celebrated part of its culture and economy.

Scope of Work

Volunteers worked alongside expert field staff to learn the following skills. This project’s crew worked together to repair the New Bern Academy’s historic brick exterior. 

  • Portico repairs; including replacing columns and deteriorated decorative elements, which we’ll also clean and repaint:  35%
  • Remove and replace deteriorated window shutters:  20%
  • Rehabilitate historic windows, including repairing sashes and frames:  45%
  • If time allows, we’ll repair failing mortar around the windows.

The Academy’s white portico, shading the front landing, is in need of rehabilitation.

Detail of the portio, which we’ll restore this fall!

New Bern Academy’s shutters and windows could use some TLC!

Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC is pictured above. Plan in some time to visit during your project in New Bern!