North Carolina Education - Guilford County

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Guilford County


The Society of Friends (aka Quakers) chartered Guilford College, the first co-educational school in the South, and third in the nation, in 1834. First known as the New Garden Boarding School, the institute opened for students in 1837. Quakers settled New Garden in the mid-eighteenth century as well as the Centre, Springfield, and Deep River meetings. In March of 1781, the New Garden Meeting House served as a hospital for British and American soldiers during the Battle of Guilford Court House.

The idea for the school originated at the New Garden Meeting House on November 10, 1830. Nathan Hunt delivered a speech concerning the paucity of educational opportunities in the Quaker community, and was seconded by Jeremiah Hubbard, a teacher in the area’s only one-room primary school. Over the next seven years, they raised $1,250 from their meeting, and received $2,400 from Friends in London and $2,600 from New York, Pennsylvania, and New England.

In 1831, a tract of one hundred-seventy (170) acres was purchased, and construction began on the school. Six years later, Founders Hall, a brick building, was completed. Quaker elders presided as the superintendents, and a series of New England teachers were hired. The school officially opened August 1, 1837, shortly after the founding of Davidson College, and a few months before Trinity College. Two years after New Garden Boarding School’s founding, Greensboro College (see below) for women opened.

New Garden Boarding School was co-educational, although girls and boys received their education separately. Founders Hall was partitioned into two halves, with boys on the east end, and girls on the west. Female and male students ate separately, and had segregated water pumps on opposite sides of the building.

In 1888, largely as a result of the donations and work of Baltimore Quaker Francis T. King, New Garden Boarding School became Guilford College. Under the guidance of Dr. Lewis Lyndon Hobbs, the first president, Guilford College expanded its curriculum and became a school of higher education. Over the next several years, construction began on new dormitories, classroom buildings, and a gymnasium. In 1897, a gift from the Duke family provided funds for the completion of Memorial Hall.

Guilford College continued to prosper in the twentieth (20th) century. In 1924, high school and preparatory classes ceased, and the school became focused solely on four-year college degrees. Presently, the college has an enrollment of nearly 1,200 students, and offers forty (40) academic majors. The school still maintains a close relationship with the Society of Friends. Two-thirds of the thirty-six (36) trustees must be Quakers; however religious affiliation is not required of students.

Guilford College remains known for its activism, with student protests a common occurrence on campus. The students carry on a tradition that has existed for nearly 150 years. During the American Civil War, the New Garden Boarding School served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and in 1864, North Carolina citizens opposed to Confederate onscription protested on the campus grounds.

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Founded by the Reverend Peter Doub in 1833, Greensboro Female College was chartered in 1838 under the United Methodist Church. The college opened in 1846, becoming the first chartered college for women in North Carolina and the third institution of its type in the United States. It was the mission of the Greensboro Female College to produce wholesome women with strong character and faith. In 1863, fire destroyed the main building of the college and, for the next decade, classes were held in Kittrell, Louisburg, and Warrenton. Greensboro Female College continued to survive and re-opened its doors during 1873 in a new building.

In 1903, the trustees decided to close the college and sell its assets. That same year, Lucy H. Robertson became the president of the college and the first female president of a college in North Carolina. Ms. Robertson and alumnae Nannie Lee Smith raised $25,000 to keep the college in operation. With the help of other alumnae and loyal supporters and friends, the college was able to overcome the financial crisis. The name of the school changed to Greensboro College for Women in 1912, and the fist bachelor’s degrees were offered in 1913. The name again changed in 1919 to Greensboro College and enrollment increased to 400 students by the centennial celebration in 1938.

In 1941, lightning struck the main building and caused another major fire, this time partially destroying the structure. The building was restored and continues to be used for the college’s primary administrative center. In 1954, Greensboro College became one of the first women’s colleges in the nation to be co-educational with the addition of a men’s residence hall, completed in 1961. The school joined with Guilford College and Bennett College as the third link to the Greensboro Tri-College Consortium in 1968.

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Edgeworth Female Seminary was an all-female institution founded by Governor John M. Morehead in nineteenth-century Greensboro. The school, opened in 1840, was destroyed by fire in 1872.

The seminary school grew due to the strong reputation of Mary Anne Hoye, headmistress of another academy for girls in the area. She greatly impressed the three daughters of John M. Morehead. He became interested in erecting a building dedicated to the education of women.

In 1840, Morehead purchased a large tract of land extending from his own homestead, “Blandwood.” At his own expense, he constructed a four-story building that would serve as a school upon its completion that year. He hired Mary Anne Hoye to be the principal. Despite being financially unsuccessful, Edgeworth became a popular girls school for families throughout the South.

Following Ms. Hoye’s death in 1844, Dr. and Mrs. D. P. Weir took charge of the school. Morehead, however, in 1845, hired the Reverend Gilbert Morgan to administer the school. Rev. Morgan immediately changed the course of study from being simply academic to becoming a full collegiate system. By 1848, there were over a hundres (100) boarders and a large dormitory was built to accommodate them. An art studio also was constructed.

Due to the American Civil War, the school shut down in 1862. During the war, the Confederacy used the building as a hospital. It would continue to be used by Union troops as a hospital during the close of the war. There were no classes held in the building through 1868. In time, the building was leased to the Reverend J. J. M. Caldwell, as he intended to re-establish the respected female institute in its place. For a short time Julius A. Gray, a son-in-law of Governor Morehead, occupied the school. The building burned down in 1872.

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Oak Ridge Institute, the first co-educational military high school in the nation, originated on April 7, 1850, when citizens of northwestern Guilford County met and appointed a Board of Trustees to erect a schoolhouse. Three years passed before the school opened on March 3, 1853, with a traditional curriculum and sixty-three (63) male students from North Carolina and Virginia. Although the institute began as a school for locals, by 1856, only one-fourth of the academy’s eighty-five (85) students were from the Oak Ridge area. The first principal was John M. Davis, a graduate of Emory and Henry College in Virginia.

In 1861-1862, the entire student body and faculty enlisted in the Confederate Army. The loss necessitated the school’s closing. Set to re-open in September of 1865, the school’s main building burned the night before classes were to resume. The school was moved to nearby cabins and private homes, although attendance remained low.

The institute remained opened throughout the 1870s and, under the leadership of brothers J. Allen and Martin H. Holt, began to reach pre-war levels of enrollment and productivity. School leaders constructed several new buildings in order to compensate for the rising number of students, and added a chapel in 1884. Five years later, the school received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. With nearly 260 students, Oak Ridge was the largest private military school in the South by 1901.

Many senior students volunteered for service during World War I, and the United States Army began recruiting graduates for service as officers. In 1926, the Army organized a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at the school and has remained the only military branch officially associated with the school. Three years later, the trustees amended the charter, changing the name from Oak Ridge Institute to Oak Ridge Military Institute.

The name changed again to Oak Ridge Military Academy in 1971. That same year, the school became the first military academy in the United States to admit females. Women had attended the school’s secondary courses after 1929, but never in a military capacity. In 1983, the 101-acre campus became a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, and eight years later the North Carolina General Assembly slated the academy as the official state military school.

Oak Ridge Military Academy presently offers a traditional curriculum for students from grades six (6) through twelve (12). Since 1990, the school has boasted a 100% rating of graduates being accepted to the college or university of their choice.

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In 1873, seventy (70) African American boys and girls began elementary and secondary studies in the basement of the Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Matthew’s Methodist Church) in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Freedmen’s Aid Society commenced support and operation of the school the following year. The Rev. Edward O. Thayer became president in 1877 and his administration saw the school’s enrollment increase. Church members attempted to raise funds to purchase land and build a separate facility about a mile from the church site. When contributions fell short or their goal, Lyman Bennett, a businessman from New York, donated $10,000 toward the effort. A building large enough for classrooms and a dormitory was erected by 1879, and the institution was named in memory of Mr. Bennett, who died shortly after his gift. The new Bennett Seminary included four departments: college, normal, English, and music.

In 1884, the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church initiated support of Bennett College by establishing the Kent Home, where young women were taught millinery, sewing, and cooking. In addition the girls who lived at the Home received special training in other homemaking skills. The Women’s Home Missionary Society assumed a more important role when Bennett College was reorganized in 1926 as a woman’s college. Now a fifty-five (55) acre campus, Bennett College is one of only two historically black colleges for women still in operation in the United States.

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A new charter in 1870, approved by the North Carolina state legislature and local voters, established Greensboro as a city instead of a town. A provision therein authorized graded schools within the city limits. Funding was to come from a school tax levied on Greensboro citizens by the state and, if necessary, city money would provide additional support. It was another five years before graded schools opened.

On January 6, 1875, the White Department of the Greensboro Graded Schools announced that the first session of school was “free to all white children within the corporate limits of the city of Greensboro” and would commence on January 15th. However, the institution had to delay its opening until February 1st. Two weeks later, 130 students had enrolled.

Lindsay Street School’s opening marked the establishment of the first permanent graded school in North Carolina. The African American graded school that started almost a month earlier on January 4th met in one room at a church. A permanent black graded school (Percy Street School) was not erected until 1880.

The school was designed to hold two hundred (200) pupils. However, local historians have provided different accounts of the design of the original facility. In 1904, James W. Albright wrote that the city enlarged a one-room brick school building into a two-story structure with five classrooms and a chapel. Ethel S. Arnett, in 1955, stated that a two-story rectangular brick building was erected “with one large room and two smaller ones downstairs, and a center hallway and stair(s) that led to two large rooms upstairs.” Later, Gayle Hicks Fripp claimed that the school had six (6) rooms.

To bolster their public education system, Greensboro voters, in May of 1875, overwhelmingly approved a school fund tax. In August of 1886, the Charleston, SC earthquake badly damaged the Lindsay Street School. Under the leadership of school committee chairman David Schenck, a new brick Lindsay Street School was completed around 1887. The new structure had a seating capacity of 583. By 1889, around three hundred (300) students attended the school. Two rooms were added in 1890 for primary grades. The institution closed in 1925.

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Legal education in North Carolina during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries included a variety of methods. Prior to the American Revolution, some of the wealthier families sent their sons to study law at the Inns of the Court in London. Other young men studied law on their own or under the tutelage of practicing attorneys in private law offices. Noteworthy lawyers who instructed students in their offices included: Thomas Ruffin, David L. Swain, Robert Strange, William Gaston, Spruce Macay, David F. Caldwell, and Archibald D. Murphey. The first private law school in North Carolina to advertise was that of John Louis Taylor, first Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Taylor opened his law school in Raleigh in 1822. Perhaps the best known private law school was Richmond Pearson’s at Mocksville in Davie County and later at Richmond Hill in Yadkin County. Pearson taught from 1846 until his death in 1878.

It was in the year of Pearson’s death that Judge Robert Paine Dick and Judge John H. Dillard opened the Greensboro Law School. Dick likely operated the school by himself until Dillard retired from the Supreme Court in 1881, then actively joining the school’s administration. Hundreds of young men received their legal educations at what became known as the Dick and Dillard Law School. The demeanor of the students inspired William Sydney Porter (“O. Henry”) to write a sarcastic poem entitled “The Dudes” about the “gay young blades” of the school. In 1880, Dick and Dillard had fifty (50) students and that number was up to eighty-seven (87) the next year. Among the early students at the school were Stephen A. Douglas Jr., Frank A. Daniels, Thomas Dixon, and Thomas Settle. Dillard retired from the school in 1888; Dick ran the school until 1893. In the fifteen (15) years that the Greensboro Law School was open, Dick and Dillard successfully prepared about three hundred (300) lawyers for their bar examinations. The school operated in a building on the west side of North Elm Street, near the court house.

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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has been known by several names since its founding in 1891. Established initially as a school for female teachers at the behest of educator Charles D. McIver, it opened as the State Normal and Industrial School. The school became the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in 1932, joining the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State College as part of the Consolidated University System. Becoming co-educational in 1963, the college was renamed the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The State Normal School was founded in 1891 on ten acres in western Greensboro in Guilford County. The city allocated $30,000 for the construction of the first buildings, in addition to the initial $10,000 provided by the North Carolina legislature. It opened in October of 1892 with 223 students and fifteen (15) faculty members, under the direction of Charles D. McIver as its first president. Originally, the school offered degrees in three departments: education, domestic sciences, and business.

Although the State Normal School suffered setbacks in the early decades including an outbreak of typhoid fever and the destruction of the main dormitory by fire, it soon developed into a successful institution. McIver died in 1906, and was succeeded by Julius Foust, who served as president until 1934. Joining the Consolidated University System in 1932, it functioned as the leading college for women in North Carolina throughout the early twentieth century.

In 1963, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was established and the school became co-educational. It continued to widen its course offerings, and today hosts over 150 undergraduate and graduate programs in fields including education, liberal arts, and business. The integration of men and minority students at UNC-G expanded and diversified the university in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1995, Patricia A. Sullivan became the first female chancellor of the university. The school now has around 14,000 undergraduates, seventy percent of those female.

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Established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1891 for the instruction of the “Colored Race” in agriculture and the mechanical arts, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has grown into a diverse institution on two hundred (200) acres in downtown Greensboro. The school graduates the largest number of African American engineers at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels in the nation. Among its alumni are the “Greensboro Four,” who initiated the sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and the late David Richmond; civil rights leader Jesse Jackson; and North Carolina jurist Henry Frye.

The school had its beginnings in Raleigh. The terms of the second Morrill Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1890, provided for the funding of both the Agricultural and Mechanical College (present-day North Carolina State University) and the counterpart land grant institution for African Americans. Before either institution could receive funds, both had to be in operation. Consequently, the first classes for what would become A & T were operated as an annex to Shaw University in 1890-1893. A group of Greensboro citizens donated fourteen (14) acres and $11,000 in cash to provide for construction of a campus in their city. The first classes were held in Greensboro in 1893.

In 1915, the North Carolina state legislature changed the name of the school from the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race to the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina. In 1967, the school was elevated to university status and in 1972 it became a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina. Present enrollment exceeds 10,000.

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Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1883-1961) brought to her native North Carolina New England ideals and money, creating in Palmer Memorial Institute one of the most respected and influential black preparatory schools in the nation. Born near Henderson in Vance County, North Carolina, Charlotte Hawkins as a small child moved with her family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was educated there in the public schools. In 1901, at age eighteen, she was persuaded by the American Missionary Association to return to North Carolina to assist in their effort to educate southern blacks. She arrived in Sedalia in eastern Guilford County and commenced teaching at the Bethany Institute. That school failed after only one year but Charlotte Hawkins soon fixed plans for a new school just across the road. It would be named for Alice Freeman Palmer, second president of Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, a friend and benefactor, who died in 1902. Young Miss Hawkins was quite successful at raising funds in New England for the project.

Palmer Memorial Institute opened on October 10, 1902, and graduated its first students in 1905. The campus grew from a classroom in a blacksmith shop to fourteen buildings and four hundred (400) acres by the 1930s. The students were of both sexes, day students and boarders. The curriculum initially emphasized manual training and industrial education; in later years there was more attention given to the liberal arts and to etiquette. Dr. Brown, who had a short-lived marriage to Harvard alumnus Edward S. Brown in 1912, retired as school president in 1952. She continued to lecture, served on several race relation boards, and received six (6) honorary degrees. Dr. Brown is said to have been a “woman of great dignity” and is especially revered by the school’s surviving alumni.

The school closed in 1971 and the property was purchased by Bennett College of Greensboro. Plans in the late 1970s for Malcolm X University at the campus were stillborn and in 1986 the State of North Carolina acquired title from the Black Muslims. With the aid of a non-profit foundation, the Division of Archives and History developed the campus as a state historic site. The aim of the site is to “link Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to larger themes of black education and social history, emphasizing the contributions black citizens have made to North Carolina.”

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Immanuel Lutheran College grew out of a desire of the Lutheran Church to provide educational opportunities for the African American community in North Carolina. Church leaders believed that a school was needed to train black ministers and teachers and, in response to the need, the North Carolina Synod pledged funding to construct facilities in 1904. However, a forward-thinking white minister, Reverend Niels Bakke, had already started an enterprise to educate young male students in 1903. Bakke’s first school began with only five students in Concord but, with funding from the Synod, it grew and moved into temporary facilities in Greensboro in 1905 and then into its own permanent buildings on a thirteen- acre campus in 1907, the same year the school had its first graduates.

Immanuel began to regularly graduate black teachers and ministers and, by 1927, sixteen (16) members of the Church’s mission board were Immanuel College alumni. The school boasted a seminary, college, and four-year high school. The creation of a school to train black ministers was a boon to the Lutheran Church in North Carolina since black leadership led to the creation of new congregations and revival of older ones. By 1927, there were over 1,300 black Lutherans in North Carolina. The 1920s were the high point of Lutheran Church missionary work and black membership. The membership boom slowed in the 1930s.

By 1955, Immanuel College was owned and operated by the Synodical Conference of North America and most of its funding was derived from the Lutheran Church. It had a faculty of ten (10) with an average student enrollment of one hundred (100), producing about thirty graduates per year from the high school, seminary, and junior college combined. The school was a driving force in the education of black leaders in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Despite the school’s success, the Lutheran Church chose to close the school in 1961, disposing of all property and buildings as quickly as possible. The buildings eventually were purchased by the growing North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical College in 1965 and some are still found on the school’s east campus. Founder Bakke served the school as president until 1910. After he left, four other presidents served the college until it closed.

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In September of 1924, the Methodist Protestant Church and the city of High Point opened High Point College. The process of getting to that point, however, had started many years earlier. The Methodist Protestant Church, part of today’s United Methodist Church, began offering higher education opportunities in North Carolina during the nineteenth century. Its first venture was sponsorship of the Yadkin College in Davidson County. Yadkin College failed in 1895 because of its isolated location but, at the turn of the century, the Reverend Joseph McCulloh began working to make the vision of a church-related college a reality. It was not until the Methodist Church’s 1921 annual conference that delegates voted to proceed with sponsoring another college. Soon after, the city of High Point offered the church sixty (60) acres of land and $100,000 to build the school. When classes began in 1924 at High Point College, the three-building campus accommodated nine (9) faculty members and 122 students.

The Great Depression took its toll on the young college. Students occasionally paid their tuition in livestock and vegetables and the faculty’s salaries went unpaid for several years. To reduce its debts, the college filed for bankruptcy in 1934 and re-organized. The college’s circumstances improved and, by the end of the decade, the campus boasted a new library, gymnasium, and athletic facility. During World War II, the facilities were used as a training center for the U.S. Army Air Force. The college saw tremendous growth during its post-war years, primarily due to the G.I. Bill, with its enrollment more than tripling. In 1951, the college received full regional accreditation for all of its programs.

On October 9, 1991, the Board of Trustees changed the college’s name to High Point University. Today the university has thirty-two (32) buildings, 150 faculty members, and over 3,000 students enrolled in its programs. Its mission stands today as it did in the words of its founders in 1924 as “to help us to appreciate and to love our own, to know our needs and opportunities, and to make ourselves more efficient servants of Christ."

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