Wayne County, North Carolina: Articles
Wayne Female College - A Part of
Reprinted with permission of the News-Argus and cannot be reproduced without
By Charles S. Norwood
Wayne Female College of Goldsboro existed from 1854 to 1862. It was closed
due to the outbreak of the Civil War & the need for its five-year-old,
four-story brick building for a Confederate Army hospital.
As the war ended with its last major battle less that 15 miles west of
Goldsboro, the college hospital overnight became a federal hospital caring
for the wounded from the battle at Bentonville.
In 1868, the college building was returned to its owners & permitted to
resume its courses. Re-opening in the fall of 1868 under the name of
Goldsboro Female College, the college continued in operation until 1881 when
it became a part of the new state public school system.
When Goldsboro was first conceived, a deal between Arnold Borden & Col. Mathew Goldsborough called for the building of a hotel by Borden & a
railroad station & stop-over by the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, all on
The hotel was located on the west side of Center Street almost directly
behind what is now the Center Theatre.
The station was located directly in front of the hotel & in the very center
of the street. In fact, the shed of the station covered the track so the
train passed through the station.
Soon after Arnold Borden's death in 1846, his widow operated the hotel for
several years before renting a portion of it to Rev. J. H. Brent who, with
his daughter Miss Sallie Brent & Miss Olivia Wright, started a boarding
school for girls who came from several surrounding counties.
This was the beginning of the Wayne Female College in 1854.
In 1857 the Borden Hotel was sold to a stock company & a movement was made
to build a school. Stock was subscribed quickly & sufficient amount was
raised to complete the building in one year.
Those subscribing were William K. Lane, president of the company, S. Milton
Frost, secretary & principal, William T. Dortch, John A. Green, Dr. S. A.
Andrews, E. B. Borden, Richard Washington, W. S. G. Andrews.
This was a prententious square building with double outside stairway &
bell-tower top. In the boarding school days, the study hall & dining room
were on the ground floor & class rooms on the third & fourth floors of
building. Four girls stayed in each room & every move was made by a bell.
Perhaps the earliest picture of Goldsboro in existence, a steel engraving
published in Leslie's Weekly about 1860, is a bird's eye view of Goldsboro
from a high point on Park Avenue about where Lionel Weil's home stood &
where the Garden Apartments now stand.
This school building represented the eastern boundary of the town in those
days & the loftiness of its four stories overshadowed the residences &
stores south & west of it.
The Park Avenue section was a farm until near the close of the last century.
This picture is filed in the Wayne County Public Library.
The school enjoyed a large attendance under the direction of Rev. S. Milton
Frost. Some of the teachers were Miss Nash from Pennsylvania, Miss Requa
from New York & Rev. Needham Bryan Cobb who taught Latin & Greek.
Rev. Frost set out the elm trees in the front yard that stand there today,
one-hundred & twenty years old.
At one time (it was during the hoop skirt period) the entire tin roof was
blown off in a violent storm & Frost sent to New Bern for a huge sail cloth
which was spread over the building until commencement was over. (Some thought
it was divine judgement being visited on the young ladies who persisted in
this foolish style of dress)
In the library is an invitation to a Goldsboro lawn party to be given at the
School Grove by the ladies on Friday, June 30, 1882, at 8 p.m. indicating the
Elm Grove was being enjoyed by all.
In 1861, the embroidery class under Miss Requa made a handsome silk
Confederate flag with these inscriptions "Goldsboro Rifles, Victory or
Death" on one side & "Presented by the Young Ladies of Wayne
April 1861" on the other side. The Goldsboro Rifles was a volunteer company
of infantry which won distinction in the Civil War.
Miss Corinne Dortch, Mrs. Thomas Slocumb & Mrs. Broadhurst were members of
(something missing here)
Goldsboro was one of the first eight cities in the state to establish free
schools. Wayne Female College was one of the first colleges of higher
education in the state.
The college building never had a name & when it was used by the city school
system in 1900, it became known as the Middle Building, since it stood
between two smaller grammar school buildings which were erected in 1903.
Middle Building became the high school & the other two buildings housed
elementary & graded classes. A recent search for pictures of each graduating
class of the old Middle Building has revealed the classes of 1906 & 1909
It is hoped that other class pictures may be found & added to the collection
now being placed in the History Room of the library.
The last class to graduate from the Middle Building was the class of 1915.
The new high school building on the corner of William & Vine was completed
The Middle Building continued to be used for junior high grades until 1927
when these grades moved the high school building on William & Vine & the
high school out to its new building on Beech Street opposite Herman
The College Building, having stood for seventy years, was declared obsolete
& removed. During those 60 years very little structural changes were made
except during the war, when interior partitions were removed to make larger
On the exterior, the front entrance & portico was rebuilt & enlarged
sometime at the turn of the century.
Contributed by Guy Potts of Raleigh, NC
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