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



Marker Text:

     The Carolina College campus served as a Methodist women’s academy, a Presbyterian junior college for men, and a military institute over the course of the 20th century. The main building, completed in 1911, played a host of roles before its destruction by fire in 1973.

     Located in Maxton, Carolina College was chartered by the North Carolina Methodist Conference in 1907. The effort to establish a school was spearheaded by Rev. S. E. Mercer and local pastor Euclid H. McWhorter. Money was raised through funds of the conference as well as local contributions. The college began operating in 1911 as a liberal arts school with an emphasis on spiritual development and education in the arts.

     Mercer was the first president, but others held the position, including R. B. John and S. E. Green. The college operated until 1926, when it closed for financial reasons. There was also a shift of priorities in the Methodist Conference following the transformation of Trinity College into Duke University in 1924. The conference decided to concentrate its effort on the Durham school.

     In 1927 the trustees of Elise Academy presented the idea of a establishing an affiliated junior college to the Fayetteville Presbytery. They combined their search with the Mecklenburg County Presbytery before deciding to pursue the purchase of the Carolina College campus. The Presbytery bought the campus in 1928. Rev. R. A. McLeod, former superintendent of Elise High School, became president of the teaching staff and the school opened its doors on September 11, 1929.

     Upon opening, the school had 84 students. The junior college survived the Depression owing to frugal spending and local support. A challenge gift of $20,000 was donated to the school in 1939 by William Henry Belk of Charlotte and R. L. McLeod of Maxton. In 1939, the school established a Civilian Pilot Training Program with the Civil Aeronautics Authority. It became part of the War Training Service as World War II approached.

     Elise Academy merged with Presbyterian Junior College in 1940. However, the college reached maximum enrollment numbers after the World War II, with the student population reaching 503. The institution continued to operate until 1960, when it and Flora MacDonald College were merged by the Synod of North Carolina into the newly created St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College at Laurinburg. Carolina Military Academy operated on the campus from 1962 until the main building burned in 1972.

William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Presbyterian Junior College Bulletin, X, no. 9 (April 1948)
Edwin A. West, Elise High School in Upper Moore County (1974)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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