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



Marker Text:

     Littleton College, a defunct all-female institution affiliated with the Methodist Church, was located in the town of Littleton. Privately opened in January 1882 as Central Institute, the school was formally chartered by the General Assembly the following month when Littleton civic leaders formed a corporation to oversee the school “for the intellectual, moral, and religious development and training of young ladies.”

     Reverend James Manley Rhodes of Four Oaks, a Methodist minister and graduate of Trinity College, was appointed the first principal. Although he resigned in 1887 to take over operations at nearby Henderson Female College, Rhodes returned in 1889 after purchasing the college property from the original stockholders. Rhodes then set about developing further the school’s buildings and facilities. In 1888 the charter had been amended to change the name to Littleton Female College.

     The school operated a two year program offering courses including chemistry, physics, stenography, languages, and history. In 1890, annual tuition, including room and board, was $70 per pupil. By 1908, nearly 25 faculty members attended to 284 students from nearly every southern state, as well as Oklahoma and one young lady from Cuba. In 1912, the “female” was dropped from the title, and the school became Littleton College.

     Seven years later, at perhaps the height of the school’s popularity, tragedy struck. On the night of January 22, 1919, a fire consumed the majority of the school’s buildings and, although no lives were lost, damages exceeded $50,000. President Rhodes, then advanced in age, did not have the abilities or resources to raise the needed money to rebuild and the college closed.

Ralph H. Rives, “Littleton Female College,” North Carolina Historical Review (Summer 1962), 363-377
Ralph H. Rives, A Brief History of Littleton College (1968)
William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
Littleton College Memorial Association Papers, East Carolina University Manuscript Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University
Warren Record, May 6, 1992
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Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Faculty of Littleton Female College, ca. 1903. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.

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