History of Virginia - Chatham Episcopal Institute

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Chatham Episcopal Institute

CHATHAM EPISCOPAL INSTITUTE. For many years the Episcopal Church of Pittsylvania County was fortunate in having as one of its most effective clergymen and workers, Rev. C. O. Pruden, whose labors were shared during more than a quarter of a century by Rev. Chiswell Dabney, who survives his former associate and warm, personal friend. To these two earnest ministers of the Gospel and public-spirited citizens the diocese of Southern Virginia and the people of Chatham are indebted for the Chatham Episcopal Institute for Girls, which these gentlemen founded in 1902. They had come to the realization that there was no school for girls between Bristol and Norfolk, or Staunton and Raleigh, and recognizing the necessity for it, took this moans of supplying the urgent need.

The beginnings of the school, as of many excellent enterprises, were small, and sessions were held at the residence of John Gilmer. Seven boarding students and five teachers were accommodated. Extensive additions were made until in 1905 the school accommodated seventyfive students. On February 17, 1905, the entire structure was destroyed by fire, and for the subsequent eighteen months the students were housed and the school work carried on in such residences as were offered by the people of Chatham.

In the meanwhile, however, the Reverends Pruden and Dabney had been very active in rebuilding, and in 1907 the new brick building now known as Pruden hall was completed. This has a capacity of seventy boarding students. It was planned to make this hall the center of three buildings, one of which, Dabney Pall, was completed in 1911. The Board of Trustees is planning to erect the third building in the near future.

The Chatham Episcopal Institute now has a capacity for 140 students. In the student body twenty-five states are represented. There are sixteen members of the faculty, all of them college or university women. Six courses of study are offered, the regular college preparatory, the literary or general course, the home economic course, the music course, the art course and the secretarial course.

In equipment and academic standard the school ranks with the very best preparatory institutions. In 1918 this school was turned over by Reverends Pruden and Dabney to the diocese of Southern Virginia, and since that time has been the diocesan school, with the bishop and bishop coadjutor of the diocese as president and vice president of the Board of Trustees. After the death of Doctor Pruden, the rector, in December, 1921, the management of the school was put in the hands of the principal, Miss Annie Marion Powell, the rector of the parish church at Chatham, Rev. T. G. Faulkner, being the chaplain of the school.