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



Marker Text:

     In the late 1860s Dr. Hector McLean opened Edenborough Medical College in the backwoods of what was then Robeson County, half a mile south of present-day Raeford. Born to Scottish immigrants in 1818, Hector McLean graduated with a degree in medicine from the University of Louisville about 1840. At a time when medical doctors were scarce and medical schools even more rare, McLean developed an extensive medical and surgical practice. He owned a number of slaves who worked the 300-500 acres of cultivated land on his plantation, “Edenborough.” As early as 1850 McLean began training medical students; however, it was not until the 1860s that he constructed a building at “Edenborough” for the purpose of instructing of instructing doctors. The General Assembly officially chartered Edenborough Medical College in 1867 making it North Carolina’s first medical college.

     There were no entrance requirements, with respect to age or previous education, for students interested in attending Edenborough Medical College. There were never more that eight students enrolled at one time. The building that housed the medical college was a two-story, 40 by 80 foot frame building. Students lived in the second story and attended lectures in the four rooms on the lower floor. While the curriculum is not known, almost assuredly the students received training in dissection, practical pharmacy, and clinical medicine. Dr. McLean often invited other doctors to visit and teach, but he was the only full-time faculty member of the college.

     In 1876 the Medical Society of North Carolina appointed a committee to investigate the operation of the school. In May 1877, the committee advised the General Assembly to revoke the school’s charter because they did not consider Dr. McLean qualified to oversee all aspects of the students’ medical education as he had been doing for the past ten years as the school’s sole faculty member. However, Dr. McLean’s death on December 1, 1877, ended the operation of the school before its charter could be rescinded. For many years the building that housed the medical college was used as a cotton gin. In 1914 it was torn down for the use of its building materials. Two years after Dr. McLean’s death and the closing of Edenborough Medical College, the University of North Carolina opened its medical school.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 170—sketch by Marcus B. Simpson, Jr.
William McLendon, “Edenborough Medical College: North Carolina’s First Chartered School of Medicine,” in Dorothy Long, ed., Medicine in North Carolina (1972)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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