Alexander Twilight (1795- 1857)
Born September 26, 1795 in Corinth, Vermont to a free black family. He graduated from Middlebury College, also in Vermont, in 1823. He earned his Bachelor's degree to become the first African American to receive a degree from an American university. Twilight was also licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church and served several Congregational churches. Twilight would later become principal of the Orleans County, Vermont Grammar School in Browning ton, Vermont. In 1836 he built a massive four-story granite building, Athenian Hall, which would later constitute the Brownington Academy. In 1836, Twilight was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives, thus also becoming the first African American to be elected to a public office, and to serve in a state legislature. Twilight died in 1857.
In 1834-36 a four-story granite structure was designed and erected by a schoolmaster believed to be America’s first African American college graduate and first African American legislator, the Reverend Alexander Twilight. The building Twilight called Athenian Hall was constructed as a dormitory for the Orleans County Grammar School, at the time the only secondary in a two county area. Today it is one of the best-preserved institutional buildings of its era in the United States. This is the Old Stone House Museum.
Across the road from the Old Stone House is the Twilight's own house, which Alexander built in 1830, a short time after he and his wife Mercy arrived in Brownington . The house provided living quarters for several students and continued to be used for students even after the Stone House was built. Purchased by the Orleans County Historical Society in 1999, the House has been restored and now serves as a visitor center for the Museum and as the Historical Society's office.
Photos and copy contributed by the Old Stone House Museum.