New Bern Academy

The New Bern Academy Museum is located in an 1809 building four blocks from Tryon Palace in the heart of New Bern’s historic residential district.  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 open from 12:30-4:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and located at 508 New Street. Groups of 10 or more may schedule a visit by calling 252-639-3524 (advance registration required). 

Admission to the New Bern Academy Museum is free.

For more information about the New Bern Academy Museum or Tryon Palace call 252-639-3500.

First Floor

“Face to Face: Civil War Sketches and Stories”: Experience New Bern’s Occupation through the eyes of African Americans, Confederates, Union soldiers, and women caught between both North and South. Spanning the March 1862 invasion of Burnside’s forces, through the devastation of the 1864 yellow fever epidemic, “Face to Face” reveals the daily lives of both military officials and citizens under their rule through artifacts, audiovisual panels, compelling stories, and period images. 

Architecture Exhibit: Focuses on the historic architecture of New Bern, the construction techniques used in erecting buildings in this region, and on the lives and work of New Bern’s 18th- and 19th-century builders and architects. Preserved building materials, drawings, and a portico donated by the New Bern Historical Society help illustrate New Bern’s Victorian, Federal, and Antebellum architecture.

Second Floor

Civil War Military Occupation Exhibit: Focuses on the Confederate defense of the city, the Battle of New Bern, the Union occupation of the town, and the role that the Academy building played during the War.

History of Education Exhibit: Presents the history of education in New Bern from the late 18th through the 19th century, including a model Lancasterian schoolroom.

More About the New Bern Academy Museum

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. One of the most interesting facts about the New Bern Academy Museum is that it was the first school in North Carolina to be established by law (the legislative assembly incorporated it in 1766). 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. 

Civil War-era photographs and an engraving from an 1824 map of New Bern helped in the reconstruction of some the Academy’s exterior elements in the 20th century. The New Bern Academy was, at first, coeducational. Later, the classes were segregated with different curricula for each sex. Most students had to pay tuition to attend the Academy until 1899, when the school became a part of the New Bern City School System.

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.