Quick Facts

Quick Facts about Mary Potter School

Dr. George Shaw

Dr. George Shaw, born in 1863 in Louisburg, North Carolina, was a graduate of Lincoln University and later the Auburn Theological Seminary. His Presbyterian background and the encouragement of Dr. Timothy Darling and Mrs. Mary Potter (persons he knew while at Auburn) profoundly affected his decision to come south to establish the Church (1888) and the School (1889). It was primarily through the efforts and monetary donations of the Presbyterian Board of Missions and the personal attention of Mrs. Mary Potter that his goals reached fruition. Shaw, along with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Lewis Shaw, played an important role in realizing their vision of religion and education of Negroes in the South.

George Shaw Life, Times and Accomplishments

Mary Potter Academy

In 1888 Dr. Shaw had a vision to establish Timothy Darling Presbyrian Church in Oxford. Dr. Shaw's vision only grew stronger after a rough start surveying the town on whether he should establish a Presbyterian Church. Soon after in 1889, Dr. Shaw began building Mary Potter Academy, a boarding school for African American children. The new school was based on the principles of the Presbyterian Church, especially the three H's of Heart, Health and Hands. The school grew to be a center of academic excellence, drawing applications from black families up and down the east coast.

For a time, Mary Potter Academy was the only high school for African Americans in Granville County until 1936. It would later become an integrated middle school in 1970, which was devastating to the African American community in Oxford. The school was the epicenter of the black community at that time and became a generator of a strong black middle class that was an incubator for many black leaders.

The Mary Potter Campus
School Clubs and Song

Timothy Darling Church

Timothy Darling Presbyterian Church was founded in 1888 by the Reverend George C. Shaw, a student at Auborn Theological Seminary.

National Mary Potter Club

Many of Mary Potter's students and leaders have moved all over the world but there are still a few who remain in Oxford to ensure that the orignal vision for this unique school continues to be relevant today The National Mary Potter Club, Inc., established by Mary Potter Alumni, has a strong desire to save their proud history be renovation the remaining buildings that were part of the original campus.

Birth of the National Mary Potter Club
Grand Reunion Sites

George C. Shaw Museum

THE George C. Shaw Museum, located in scenic and historic Oxford, North Carolina, was originally the home of the founder of Mary Potter Academy, Dr. George Clayton Shaw. The beautiful home was built in 1921 by the master builder and instructor in the school’s Industrial Arts Department, Mr. Thomas L. Hicks, and students at Mary Potter Academy.

Mrs. Mary Potter

Mrs. Mary Potter, of Schenectady, New York, was Special Secretary of the Freedman's Board in Albany Presbyterial, and New York Synodical, was a strong supporter of Mr. George Clayton Shaw and his efforts to establish the school. The completed school building, a modest structure, stood as a monument to her, and to Dr. Timothy Darling, Mrs. Harriette Howell, and Mr. Shaw.

In 1892, the school heretofore designated as "Timothy Darling Field" was named "Mary Potter School" - after Mrs. Potter, whose influence led the Albany Presbyterial and New York Synodical Societies to contribute to the school's support.