Storer College was created when John Storer, a philanthropist living in Sanford, Maine, approached Rev. Dr. Oren Burbank Cheney, President of Bates College, with a $10,000 gift to found a school which would eventually become a college and would educate students in a southern state, regardless of color or race. Though Storer was agreeable to opening the school in any southern state, the US Government granted seven acres of Federal land with buildings near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The school was named Storer and opened in October, 1867 with 19 students.
e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia
Storer College, a product of the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War, was established in 1867 in Harpers Ferry by the Freewill Baptist Church to educate freed slaves in the Shenandoah Valley. The college was supported by the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands and endowed by John Storer of Sanford, Maine.
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership
Camp Hill, upon which several armory residences had been erected during the first half of the 19th century, served host to both Union and Confederate forces during much of the Civil War. Here could be found officer's quarters, encampments, drill and parade grounds.
National Park Service
Following the Civil War, the Reverend Dr. Nathan Cook Brackett established a Freewill Baptist primary school in the Lockwood House on Camp Hill. Brackett's tireless efforts to establish freedmen's schools in the area inspired a generous contribution from philanthopist John Storer of Sanford, Maine, who offered $10,000 for the establishment of a school in the South. The donation was offered on the condition that the school be open to all regardless of sex, race or religion.
Storer College on Wikipedia
For over 88 years, the place of education ultimately known as "Storer College" stood high above Harpers Ferry on Camp Hill. Beginning life as a one-room school for freedmen, Storer grew into a full-fledged degree-granting college open to all races, creeds, and colors, and men and women. Former slaves thrown into the world with no training, no skills, and no education found at Storer a place to learn to read and write, to teach others in their community, and to develop marketable skills. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren found place of learning in the days of racial segregation. Students left Storer with the education, the training, and perhaps most importantly, the sense of worth needed to make their way in an unsympathetic society.
West Virginia Culture & History
The tidal wave of battle had hardly subsided at the close of the Civil War before a strikingly different wave swept over the southland. The north, having freely given of its best blood and treasures for the maintainance [sic] of the Union and banishment of slavery with unparalled [sic] generosity volunteered to assist its late foe in retrieving their broken future by aiding in the establishment of schools for the newly freed negro. Churches and religious societies were the first to enduringly enter into the work. And in the somewhat imaginary divisions of the State among such organizations, the valley of Virginia was assigned to the Free Baptists. Such assignments to various parts of the South were made, that conflicting efforts might be avoided and more efficient work be done.