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



Marker Text:

     In 1873 seventy African American boys and girls began elementary and secondary studies in the basement of the Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Matthew’s Methodist Church) in Greensboro. The Freedmen’s Aid Society commenced support and operation of the school the following year. The Rev. Edward O. Thayer became president in 1877 and his administration saw the school’s enrollment increase. Church members attempted to raise funds to purchase land and build a separate facility about a mile from the church site. When contributions fell short or their goal, Lyman Bennett, a businessman from New York, donated $10,000 toward the effort. A building large enough for classrooms and a dormitory was erected by 1879, and the institution was named in memory of Bennett, who died shortly after his gift. The new Bennett Seminary included four departments: college, normal, English, and music.

     In 1884 the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church initiated support of Bennett by establishing the Kent Home, where young women were taught millinery, sewing, and cooking. In addition the girls who lived at the Home received special training in other homemaking skills. The Women’s Home Missionary Society assumed a more important role when Bennett College was reorganized in 1926 as a woman’s college. Now a fifty-five-acre campus, Bennett College is one of only two historically black colleges for women still in operation in the United States.

Bennett College website:
Alexander R. Stoesen, Guilford County: A Brief History (1993)
Jay S. Stowell, Methodist Adventures in Negro Education (1922), electronic edition at
Donna M. Owens, “Daughters of the Dream,” Essence (Feb. 2005)
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

Bennett College Student Union

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