MIS/Jennie Dean Memorial Campaign

Jennie Dean

About the Project

The Jennie Dean Memorial Committee invites you to help share the uplifting but little-known story of a courageous woman who made an indelible mark on this community.

In 1992, the Manassas City Council formally approved plans for the development of a five-acre archaeological memorial located on the original site of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth (9601 Wellington Road). Phase 1 of the Memorial was dedicated in 1995 which included replicated foundations, an information kiosk, and a model of the original campus with parking and gravel walkways. 

The Manassas Industrial School/Jennie Dean Memorial update seeks to encourage more of the community to visit, linger, and learn about Jennie Dean’s rich legacy. Phase One of the $350,000 project includes installation of a long-planned bronze statue and a surrounding plaza with enhanced landscaping. Local artist Chris Hill’s proposed statue depicts Jennie Dean as the dynamic woman she was, and it will be an impressive focal point of the Memorial.

Future plans call for connected walking paths, an updated interpretive kiosk and signage, and an amphitheater for community use.

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Who Was Jennie Dean?

Despite being born into slavery in 1848 and without the benefit of a formal education, Jane “Jennie” Serepta Dean’s vision changed the lives of countless area African Americans. While working as a domestic servant in Washington, she travelled home by train on weekends to train “her people” in life skills, establish Sunday schools, and finally, to establish the Manassas Industrial School in 1893, mostly with funds she raised from prominent East Coast philanthropists.

The school provided both academic and vocational training within a Christian setting on its 100-acre campus. The school allowed students to earn their tuition and board through its industries, and products they sold also supported the school. After Dean’s death in 1913, the campus became a regional high school for African Americans in 1938, and was later home to an integrated high school, middle school, and elementary school.

The Sculptor's Vision

Local sculptor Chris Hill, who has created a  has previously created a bust portrait of Marion Barry, and a seven foot tall Harriet Tubman statue at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He immersed himself in the Jennie Dean story to create a more compelling work.

"Jennie Dean was, above all, an altruist determined to elevate the welfare of her people through education, faith and tradesmanship. In order to convey this, I have designed Jennie Dean with an outstretched hand reaching towards viewers, as if inviting to lift them up. Her left arm is outstretched, forming a clear line between the head, the heart, and the hand. Over time, I hope that people will take her hand and wear away its patina. When this hand begins to polish and shine, it will reflect the engagement Jennie Dean continues to inspire in the community," Hill says.