Norfolk Academy entered into official existence on November 13, 1728. As early as 1680, however, its presence had been foreseen by Norfolk town planners who reserved a large parcel of land across the street from the parish church as a “school lot.” Some forty-eight years later the lot was deeded to three prominent citizens with the instructions that a school be constructed there for the benefit of the “inhabitance [sic] of Norfolk Town.” That 1728 “trust deed” would serve as the charter for the school and create the school’s first trustees.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the school went through several different phases, including a time as the “Norfolk Military Academy.” Between 1855 and 1865 a series of disasters struck Norfolk. First, an epidemic of yellow fever killed over 1/3 of its citizens within several months. Then the population was further drained by the demand for young men to fight a civil war. Finally came occupation by “Yankee” troops. For a while Union forces seized the Academy for use as a hospital. By the time of Reconstruction, however, the school was again operating. Subsequent tough times brought by Depression and War again challenged the school’s survival; in fact, the school suspended operations to allow the Navy to use its main building for offices in World War II.
The modern era for Norfolk Academy began with the arrival in 1950 of James B. Massey, Jr., as headmaster. Through his uncompromising leadership and the vision of an outstanding Board of Trustees, the Academy grew and prospered. The final essential step to prominence was the 1966 merger with the Country Day School for Girls in Virginia Beach, and the concurrent move to the school’s present location on the Norfolk/Virginia Beach border. The school now serves students from Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.