THE G. C. Shaw Museum, located in scenic and historic Oxford, North Carolina, was originally the home of the founder of Mary Potter Academy, Dr. George Clayton Shaw.  The beautiful home was built in 1921 by the master builder and instructor in the school’s Industrial Arts Department, Mr. Thomas L. Hicks, and students at Mary Potter Academy. 

The founder of the School, Dr. Shaw was also the founding Pastor of the Timothy Darling Presbyterian Church in Oxford North Carolina.  Mary Potter Academy was an outgrowth of the Church and it satisfied the need for a school for African Americans in this area of North Carolina.  Dr. Shaw, born in 1863 in Louisburg, North Carolina was a graduate of Lincoln University and later the Auburn Theological Seminary.  His Presbyterian background and the encouragement of Dr. Timothy Darling and Mrs. Mary Potter (persons he knew while at Auburn) profoundly affected his decision to come south to establish the Church (1888) and the School (1889).  It was primarily through the efforts and monetary donations of the Presbyterian Board of Missions and the personal attention of Mrs. Mary Potter that his goals reached fruition.  Shaw, along with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Lewis Shaw, played an important role in realizing  their vision of religion and education of Negroes in the South.

The School educated many African Americans during its long history.  Early in its history, Mary Potter School’s curriculum was primarily religious in nature. Its talented staff with instructors from Lincoln, Howard, Syracuse and Shaw Universities prepared students in normal and preparatory courses with Latin and Greek offered.  Among its accomplished graduates, educators, government leaders, civil rights leaders, entertainers, and businessmen can be recognized.  Until 1936, Mary Potter was the only high school for African Americans in Granville County and it served as a Boarding School until the 1950’s.  In 1970, following its seventy-first Annual Commencement, Mary Potter became an integrated middle School.

Today, the G. C. Shaw Museum commemorates the illustrious life of Dr. and Mrs. Shaw.  In 2000, Mary Potter Alumni began a restoration of the Shaw’s home for use as a museum of the school’s history.  The Shaw Museum Mission Statement includes the following goals:

  • To provide a visual, historical setting to inspire and stimulate an interest in education;
  • To provide an arena for the appreciation of cultural endeavors in our community;
  • To provide a secure, safe, and beautiful edifice that is community based and efficiently run;
  • To acquire, preserve, and restore furniture, artifacts, and documents that safeguard the legacy and interpret the life and impact of Dr. George Clayton Shaw.

As you drive through tranquil Oxford and reach New College Street, you will notice a historical marker concerning the Mary Potter School and its founder, Dr. George Clayton Shaw.  The marker points out the Mary Potter Campus which begins at the Shaw Museum.

-View Dr. Shaw's History Timeline-
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