north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The story of Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute is well known; but North Carolina was also home to other pioneering African American educators. Dr. Calvin Scott Brown (no relation) was born in Salisbury in 1859 and graduated from Shaw University in 1886. Brown worked his way through college (where he studied theology) with the aide of a Northern white church. Prior to graduation—and at the urging of Henry Martin Tupper, founder of Shaw University—Brown began his pastoral work in Hertford County at Pleasant Plains Baptist Church. He established a school for African American students, known as Chowan Academy, in 1886.

     With funding secured by C. S. Brown from the Home Mission Society of New York and other sources, the school flourished. The campus grew along with the school’s reputation, attracting students from well beyond the immediate area. The three-story Reynolds Hall was erected on campus in 1893, and Morehouse Hall followed in 1909. By then, the school had a new name: the Waters Normal and Industrial Institute (named in honor of a New York philanthropist). By the early 1920s, funding had become a problem; and Brown found himself in a constant struggle to keep the school afloat, often pouring his own salary into the effort. Brown’s wife taught for many years without pay. In 1924, the school was taken over by the state (which proved its salvation) and the name was changed again to Waters Training School.

     Other African American educators and religious leaders were much influenced by Brown and his successes. Brown was well-traveled but cast his lot with the people of Hertford County and eastern North Carolina; and. In 1937, the school where he taught for 52 years before his death in 1936, was renamed in honor of its founder. In the academic year for 1963-1964, the C. S. Brown School boasted an enrollment of 579 at the high school level, and 608 at the elementary level. Currently, the C. S. Brown Student Development Center is part of the Hertford County public school system. Brown and his wife are buried on the old campus, which is now home to the C. S. Brown Regional Cultural Arts Center and Museum and the Office of Aging for Hertford County. The C. S. Brown School Auditorium building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Roy Parker, ed., The Ahoskie Era of Hertford County (1939)
G. F. Richings, Evidences of Progress Among Colored People (1902), available online at:
J. A. Whitted, A History of the Negro Baptists of North Carolina (1908), available online at:
Bill Sharpe, “Big Rivers; Broad Fields,” The State (June 1956)
Virginia Electric and Power Company, Hertford County, North Carolina: An Economic Study (August 1964)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources