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



Marker Text:

      In 1872 the Southern Christian Conference (of the Christian Church, later United Church of Christ) decided to open a college. The institution tentatively was known as “Graham College,” as there had long been such an institution in Graham, already associated with the church. However, when the trustees were unable to acquire land in Graham, in 1888 a different location for the campus was selected. It was to be near a railroad stop in Alamance County known as Mill Point, about five miles west of Burlington.

      The trustees purchased 48 acres of land from W. H. and E. A. Trollinger as well as several adjoining plots from other interested parties—a total of 86.81 acres for bargain prices. When the land, filled with old oak trees, was being cleared in 1889, the name Elon was selected. Elon is the Hebrew word for oak. Elon College opened on September 2, 1890, as a four-year liberal arts college.

      A town plat was created and lots were sold to help raise money for the college. The community grew quickly and was incorporated in 1893 as Elon College. The town’s streets were given names commemorating important figures in the development of the Christian Church and of the college. In January 1923, the main campus building was destroyed by fire. During the reconstruction, which took about three years, the campus was expanded with five new buildings to accommodate the growing college.

      Elon College added graduate degree programs in the 1980s. Those have continued to grow, with law added in 2006. To better reflect the school’s diverse programs and growing student body, the college changed its name to Elon University in 2000. With that change, the name of the town was changed from Elon College to Elon.

Durwood Stokes, Elon College: Its History and Traditions (1982)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Carole W. Troxler and William M. Vincent, Shuttle and Plow: A History of Alamance County, North Carolina (1999)
George Keller, Transforming a College (2004)
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Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Elon University

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