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

 
 
 

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Essay:
     John H. Mills, father of the orphanage movement in North Carolina, in 1872 founded the Masonic Orphanage in Oxford, the state’s first, ushering in a “golden age” of the orphanage movement. Over the next thirty years the following institutions were established: Thompson Orphanage in Charlotte (Episcopal) in 1881, Central Orphanage in Oxford (Colored) in 1883, Thomasville Baptist Orphanage in 1885, Barium Springs (Presbyterian) in Iredell County in 1891, and Methodist Orphanage in Raleigh in 1899.

     The Methodist Orphanage was established by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church. The building was completed in 1900, and the first child, Cassie Bright, was admitted in January 1901. By the end of that year the orphanage had twenty-eight children. Admission was granted to children by referral of Methodist pastors in the fifty-six counties of central and eastern North Carolina, the geographical boundary of the North Carolina Methodist Conference. In 1909, Children’s Home, a Methodist orphanage serving residents of the western counties, was established in Winston-Salem. Methodist Orphanage evolved by 1930 into a comprehensive residential facility and school. At the height of the Depression, enrollment peaked at 340 residents. In the early years of the facility, children lived in dormitories housing twenty-five to thirty individuals. The orphanage later shifted to a “house-parent” setup, with cottages housing up to twelve children under the care of a parental figure.

     In 1955 Methodist Orphanage changed its name to Methodist Home for Children and restructured its facilities to meet the needs of children and families in America’s increasingly mobile society. Departing from strictly residential programs, Methodist Home for Children developed outreach programs and services. In 1979 the Home sold its central campus and established a series of youth homes and family-centered outreach programs across the state. Today twenty-one acres of the original campus, now called Fred Fletcher Park, are maintained by Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department, including two of the original buildings. The Methodist Home for Children is recognized as one of the state’s most distinguished child and family service agencies, working with more than 1,400 children and their families a year. Today the Methodist Home maintains an office on original campus property north of Fred Fletcher Park.

References:
Methodist Home for Children website: http://www.mhfc.org
100th Anniversary, 1899-1999, Methodist Orphanage/Methodist Home for Children (1999)
Perry Lefeavers, The Children’s Home (1983)
O. Kelly Ingram, Methodism Alive in North Carolina (1976)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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