The Public School in New Bern

The New Bern Academy Museum was the first school incorporated in North Carolina and is the longest running public school in the state.  Though founded in 1764, it was not incorporated until 1766, under a legislative act that placed a tax on liquor to support the school’s funding. Edgar W. Knight, 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.” 

The original 1766 building burnt down and was reconstructed in 1809.  Originally a schoolhouse for both boys and girls, the New Bern Academy served as a Union hospital during the Civil War, after the invasion of Burnside’s troops. In 1899, The Academy became part of the New Bern graded school system which used it for classes until 1971, making it one of the oldest continuously used school buildings in America. 

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 is located four blocks from Tryon Palace, 508 New Street, in the heart of New Bern’s historic residential district, and is FREE to the public to explore.