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



Marker Text:

     Louisburg College is the oldest two-year, church-related, co-educational college in the nation. Its predecessor institution, Franklin Academy, received a charter in 1787. The academy was re-chartered in 1802 and, after false starts, opened east of the town commons, on January 1, 1805, as Franklin Male Academy. Enrollment expanded under the leadership of Matthew Dickinson, a graduate of Yale University, who was well versed in over twenty subjects including five languages. In 1814, Louisburg Female Academy was chartered and opened on the west side of the town commons with an additional building to accommodate the young women. Under the rule of Asher H. Ray and his wife Jane Curtis Ray, the school offered four-year regular courses and became known as a respected female seminary.

     Work began to transform the female academy into a college in 1855. Development and instruction continued under the new plan until 1865 when the college was forced to close. The college reopened in 1866 only to be closed again in 1878 for the next eleven years. During that time the buildings were used as a private residence and for a high school.

     Reopening in 1889 with eight teachers and a president, the college enrolled around 100 students. The institution had long been operated under the care of the Methodist Church, but the church had not given any support for the institution since its establishment in 1805. The college did receive funds from Washington Duke of Durham, who became owner of the property in 1891. Upon Duke’s death in 1907, Benjamin Duke, his son, presented the property to the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church. His act of generosity officially linked the college to the Methodist Church. New additions were made to the campus in the early twentieth century and the program was reorganized in 1915 to make Louisburg College a junior college. The college became coeducational in 1931.

William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Vickie E. Mason, The Historic District of Louisburg, North Carolina (1990)
Louisburg College website:
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Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Louisburg College

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