On Sept. 10, 1959, the Prince Edward County School Foundation began the inaugural year of Prince Edward Academy with a ceremony in the theater formerly located here. Almost 1,500 school-age white children had enrolled in the private school established by white community leaders following the county's June 1959 decision to close the public schools rather than integrate them. The whites-only State Theater was also a target for protests in the spring and summer of 1963. The picketers were primarily young, local African-Americans inspired by civil rights activities elsewhere, including in Birmingham, Ala. Many of their parents were unable to join them due to the economic pressure that segregationists could exert on their jobs and on their credit in stores.