Katharine Drexel, one of only two Americans to become a Roman Catholic saint, purchased this Gothic-style, slave-built manor in Virginia's Powhatan County in the 1890s and turned it into an education center for black and Native American people. Belmead, a former place of enslavement, became an icon in the civil rights movement with its impressive feats in education and social progress for minorities. The two private schools located here — a boys' (pictured here) and a girls' — educated some very distinguished graduates including several Tuskegee Airmen and important civil rights leaders.
The schools were shut down in the 1970s and many of the 40 campus buildings were demolished. Only three major historic structures survive, and they are in major disrepair. In March 2010, a four-story bell tower collapsed, leaving the interior open to the elements. The manor needs emergency roof work and all structures are deteriorating rapidly without the proper care.