Education Related Buildings

Raleigh is known for its many educational institutions, so it is no surprise that the city has a good number of landmark properties reflecting that history.


The oldest are two buildings at St. Mary’s School on Hillsborough Street. East and West Rock date to the 1830s when Episcopalians founded a school for boys. Although it failed, a girls’ school took over the campus and St. Mary’s has now endured since 1842. Other iconic buildings on campus include the 1839 Smedes Hall, the excellent Carpenter Gothic Chapel dating to 1855, and the 1906 Neoclassical Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium. The 1861 Greek Revival Peace College Main Building at William Peace University also represents this period.


During the post-Civil War era, a number of institutions offered instruction to African Americans. In 1865, Henry Martin Tupper, a Baptist minister from Massachusetts, started a church and began teaching school to the city’s burgeoning population of formerly enslaved people. Tupper’s instructional work grew into Shaw University. The 1912 Tupper Memorial Baptist Church is named in his honor and stands at the location of his original church and school building. St. Augustine’s College, established in 1867, and Shaw taught and trained prospective teachers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals. Landmark buildings on Shaw’s campus include the 1874 Estey Hall, the 1881 Leonard Medical School and the 1912 Leonard Medical Hospital. The 1895 Chapel and the ruin of the 1909 St. Agnes Hospital at St. Augustine’s represent its early history.


West of Raleigh’s nineteenth-century city limits—but well within the city today—were the freedmen’s villages of Oberlin and Method. Important schools in those communities were Latta University and the Berry O’Kelly School, respectively. The Latta House and University Site are landmarked though no buildings remain, although archaeologists studied the site after the house burned in 2007. Surviving school buildings at the Berry O’Kelly campus in Method date to the twentieth century: the 1926 Agricultural Building and the 1959 Gymnasium both speak to the longevity of a school founded in 1894.



The state opened educational institutions in nineteenth-century Raleigh as well. The 1898 North Carolina School for the Blind and Deaf Dormitory on West Jones Street was part of a state school that opened in 1849. The Agriculture Experiment Station Cottage on Vanderbilt Avenue just north of NC State was built in 1886, when surrounding land was a working farm. It soon became part of North Carolina State College (later University), established in 1887. Two years later, in 1889, State’s first building, Holladay Hall was erected.


Segregation persisted in the twentieth century and several schools reflect that history. Landmarked historically African American schools include the 1922 St. Matthews School, built with Rosenwald funds; the 1924 Washington Graded and High School, started with Northern missionary aid and acquired by the city by the 1880s; and St. Monica’s, run by the Catholic diocese. Raleigh’s grandest public school for white students was Broughton High School, which opened in 1929 in a building designed by prominent Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick. The 1916 Murphey School became the first integrated public school in Raleigh in 1960. Full integration of Raleigh’s public schools did not occur until 1971.


Construction of these landmarked buildings in Raleigh spans nearly a hundred years. These schools represent striking variety—in scale, materials, style, and location. In both their architectural and historical details, they reveal much about the history of the city and the education of its people.

Designed by architect James M. Kennedy, this three-story classically inspired brick building is the oldest standing public school building in Raleigh and one of the few remaining examples of this academic style. Murphey School played a significant role in the history of the civil rights movement…
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William Henley Deitrick received the 1930 American Institute of Architects outstanding school prize for the design of the Northern Italian Romanesque school. The ninety-five-foot-high tower marks the central entrance to the school, faced with ashlar stone and accented by cast-stone ornament, orange…
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The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh built St. Monica's for African American students in 1930, when all city schools were still segregated. This small building with spare Gothic detailing housed eight elementary grades in four classrooms. The school thrived: Many saw St. Monica's as a better…
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This was the first public high school for African Americans in Raleigh and continued as the only such school until 1953. Many influential members of the Raleigh African American community were Washington High School graduates. The building is an example of the Jacobean style popular for school…
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St. Matthews is one of just five remaining Rosenwald schools in Wake County; twenty-one were built in the early twentieth century. Julius Rosenwald, an owner of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, established a charitable fund to open schools for African American children across the South. St. Matthews…
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Holladay Hall has an irregular H-shape plan with a three-story main pavilion flanked by two-and-one-half-story gable-roofed wings. It employs both Classical and Romanesque details. Originally called Main Building but renamed for the college's first president, Alexander Quarles Holladay, the…
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Following Berry O’Kelly’s death in 1931, his namesake school continued to serve the community of Method. As more schools for African Americans were established in the area, its enrollment began to fall. The push toward integration further affected the school’s enrollment (eventually leading to its…
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Berry O'Kelly School is in the Method community, a freedman’s village established by former slave Jesse Mason and his family. The Agriculture Building is the oldest of only two surviving buildings from the multi-building school complex founded by O'Kelly, a revered merchant, wholesaler,…
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In 1892, freed slave and teacher Rev. M. L. Latta founded Latta University, a coeducational institution established to educate underprivileged and orphaned children in Raleigh's African American community. Located in historic Oberlin, the Latta property housed the university as well as Rev.…
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Fire severely damaged the original 1895 building, which housed a nurse training center. Under the direction of Rev. Henry Beard Delany, the first African American Episcopal bishop in North Carolina, students quarried the stone and started the current building in 1905.
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The chapel is one of the oldest surviving buildings on Saint Augustine's campus. Students built the irregular T-shaped chapel of native granite under the direction of Rev. Henry Beard Delany. The broad overhangs of the gable roof are reminiscent of early Gothic buildings. Date: 1895
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Leonard Medical Hospital was erected in 1912 to support the neighboring Leonard Medical School in the education of black physicians at Shaw University. The hospital initially opened in an 1885 frame building behind the medical school. It provided much-needed health care for Raleigh’s black…
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The 1881 Leonard Medical School is a nice—if not entirely intact—example of the Romanesque Revival style. Its primary significance, however, lies in its connection to the medical education provided by Shaw University to black male students in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.…
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Estey Hall was the first structure built for the higher education of African American women in the United States and is the oldest surviving building on the Shaw University campus. Designed by G. S. H. Appleget, the building has a cross-gabled roof with a framed cupola and windows heavily accented…
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Dr. Henry Martin Tupper founded the church in 1866 as Second Baptist Church, providing religious services and classes for African Americans, including theological training for preachers, adult education, and eventually high school and grade school lessons. Eventually, classes outgrew the church and…
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Resembling a Lorraine cross to maximize the interior space, the Neoclassical Revival auditorium is ornamented with classical motifs, rusticated piers, cast-iron Corinthian columns, and heavy window cornices that add interest and animation to the design. The building bears the name of a student who…
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Designed by English-born architect Richard Upjohn, this small board-and-batten Carpenter Gothic chapel graces the campus with its beauty and simplicity. The main gable contains a cartwheel rose window above an entrance hood supported by curved brackets. A cruciform finial crowns the steep gabled…
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Smedes Hall is a three-and one-half story Greek Revival brick building. Originally built for the boys' school and called Main Hall, Smedes was renamed in honor of the Reverend Aldert Smedes, first rector and president of Saint Mary's School. It has been used as a multi-purpose building…
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East Rock (1834) and West Rock (1835) were built of stone discarded during the construction of the second State Capitol. The twin buildings flank Smedes Hall, the school's main building; enclosed walkways connect the three buildings. Date: 1834; 1835
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