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



Marker Text:

      Hillsborough Academy is a name shared by a number of schools in the town of Hillsborough. The first school, never having thrived, operated in an old Anglican Church from 1785 until 1790. The second was established in Hillsborough by 1801. The trustees in 1801 included Walter Alves, William Kirkland, William Whitted, William Cain, and Duncan Cameron. The academy, led by Reverend Andrew Flinn and “a proper assistant,” offered the classics, English, reading, writing, mathematics, geography, bookkeeping, “and the plainer branches of mathematics.” Reverend William Bingham (1754-1826), a native of Ireland who was educated in Scotland, became principal in 1813, but departed by 1815 in order to establish his own school. Known as Mount Repose, Bingham’s school was about 10 miles from Hillsborough.

      Hillsborough Academy was named the official preparatory school for the University of North Carolina in 1819, the university having withdrawn its own such offerings. It was coeducational until 1824, when the Hillsborough Female Academy was incorporated. Hillsborough Academy’s longest serving principal was William J. Bingham (1802-1866), son of the Reverend and former principal. Bingham held the post from 1827 until 1844, at which time he, like his father before, left to open a school at the Oaks, northwest of Chapel Hill. In 1834 the academy’s trustees praised Bingham as a man “whose well known reputation as a classical scholar and peculiar tact of imparting instruction, has given reputation to this School, which is second to none in the southern States.”

      In 1845 the Caldwell Institute absorbed the struggling Hillsborough Academy, moving to the campus to escape a typhoid fever epidemic in Greensboro. The institute prospered for a time but closed in 1850. The following year Hillsborough Academy was revived by Benjamin R. Huske and Ralph Henry Graves. The school operated until 1858. The facilities were used by the nascent Hillsborough Military Academy from 1859 until 1860 while its campus was constructed.

(Note: The original Bingham School marker was replaced and text rewritten, incorporating a new title, in 2009.)

Robert I. Curtis, “The Bingham School and Classical Education in North Carolina, 1793-1873,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1996): 328-377
Jean B. Anderson, The Kirklands of Ayr Mount (1991)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Hugh Lefler and Paul Wager, eds., Orange County, 1752-1952 (1953)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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