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

 
 
 

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Essay:
     Davenport Women’s College first opened its doors in Lenoir in 1855. That year, Center Camp Meeting had collected $12,000 for its construction. Three thousand of that sum was donated by Colonel William Davenport, whose name the school was given in time. Caldwell County’s William A. Lenoir gave land for the school buildings. In the fall of 1857, the school was placed under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The North Carolina General Assembly chartered the institute on January 21, 1859; at that time, fifty-six women were enrolled.

     Notwithstanding shortages and devastating pillage by troops taking part in Stoneman’s Raid in 1865, classes at Davenport continued through the war years and beyond. In February of 1877, the college burned. Despite the efforts of the community to extinguish the flames, the building was destroyed. At the time, it was valued at $25,000, but the facilities were not insured. By 1884, the school had been rebuilt and was operating as a private high school. It was not until the early 1900s that it was again a two-year college and boarding school. In 1893 control of the college transferred from the South Carolina Conference to the Western North Carolina Conference.

     During its years of operation, Davenport College offered social and cultural opportunities to citizens of Caldwell County that otherwise would not have been available. All in the community were welcome to attend lectures and concerts that were brought in by the college. In 1932 the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church recommended that Davenport College merge with Greensboro College. As preparations were made for the merger, Davenport closed its doors in 1933. The amalgamation was completed in 1938. Greensboro College is now co-educational, and it continues to be affiliated with the United Methodist Church. At the time of Davenport’s closing, two buildings remained. They were used for a time by Caldwell County Schools as a junior high school. Today, the one remaining Davenport College building houses the Caldwell Heritage Museum.


References:
William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
Caldwell Heritage Museum Website: http://www.caldwellheritagemuseum.org/
Nancy Alexander, Here Will I Dwell: The Story of Caldwell County (1956)
W.W. Scott, Annals of Caldwell County (1930)
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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