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



Marker Text:

      Graham College had its beginnings in 1851 when John R. Holt incorporated Graham Academy as a school for male students. The school opened its doors the following year under the direction of Holt and was opened to female students as well. Due to prior mismanagement and financial troubles plus the start of the Civil War, the school was forced to close in 1863.

      In 1871 Dr. William S. Long, long an advocate for education of both boys and girls, purchased the old college property and, the following year, opened Graham High School, teaching at the school along with his brother, Reverend Daniel Long. In 1881 the school’s charter was changed to call it Graham Normal College in order to prepare students for teaching careers in addition to standard studies. In 1883 Daniel Long left the school to become president of Antioch College in Ohio and the school was operated solely by William Long. While the Christian Church had been instrumental in building the school, it took no formal role in management until 1886 when the school was formally leased to the Church and plans were developed to create a more permanent location and name for the school. The town of Graham was chosen to be the educational center in North Carolina for the Christian Church partly because of its central location in the state and easy access to transportation via the North Carolina Railroad.

      In 1889 Elon College (now University) was founded near Burlington by the Christian Church, with William Long as its first president. Long is credited as the lead visionary in the creation of the new college, choosing the name “Elon” for the area, the Hebrew word for “oaks.” Long and the Church planned to make the original Graham College institution a preparatory school. However, in 1892, Graham College building was destroyed by fire and the Church discontinued plans for its use as a school and sold the property.

Durward T. Stokes, Elon University: Its History and Traditions (1982) Walter Whitaker, Centennial History of Alamance County, 1849-1949 (1949)
Elinor S. Euliss, ed., Alamance County: The Legacy of its People and Places (1984)
Durward T. Stokes and William T. Scott, A History of the Christian Church in the South (1975)
Elon University website:
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

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