Livingstone College Historic District
The Livingstone College Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2012, The Gombach Group.
Livingstone College, with its adjoining residential area (Livingstone College Historic District), are an important chapter in the development of black Americans. This is a direct reflection of the educational drive of the black community in the period, including the expression of this drive through the church. The A.M.E. Zion Church, with a long-standing commitment to education, here finally succeeded in founding an institution of higher learning, a black school founded by a black church in a time when black schools were usually paternalistic outreaches of the white community. As an institution, Livingstone has experienced and contributed to the trends in black education, those most notable being its first emphasis on teachers for the race, then in the emphasis on self-help and trades education, and finally on the drive for academic respectability in the early part of this century. Livingstone College and area are as important for the individuals associated with them. From being a project of the Zion leadership, it turned to producing that leadership through its education of teachers and clergy. Its presidents have generally been men of at least important local stature, such as the educator and businessman William Henry Goler. That the school's reputation extended overseas is demonstrated in the career of the important black educator and missionary James E.K. Aggrey of the Gold Coast of Africa. Of the associated individuals, however, the most important is Joseph Charles Price, a black leader momentarily of national stature before his early death of Bright's Disease. A nearly intact College neighborhood of the period, Livingstone College and its nearby community continue to play an important role in the culture of the black community.
Salisbury's Livingstone College has its origins in the Zion Wesley Institute, incorporated in nearby Concord in 1879. The school was founded under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church.
This founding body is an outgrowth of the Wesleyan movement in the United States, beginning with the 1796 formation of Zion Church in New York City to serve the black population of that city. For about twenty years thereafter, the church contracted with the African Methodist Episcopal Church for clerical service and operated under black lay leadership. The Methodist Episcopal Church refused to ordain black clergy, and the black lay leadership began to procure clerical service from the Protestant Episcopal Church after about 1816. Finally, a schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church created a body of secessionist clergy from whom A.M.E. Zion leaders received ordination. Other clerical contracts were ended, and the Church became fully independent.
The A.M.E. Zion commitment to education goes back to its first church in grammar education, but the early record on higher education consists of abortive efforts. Chief among these was Rush University, first proposed in 1849 as Rush Academy, based on 160 acres in New York state contributed for that purpose by Bishop Benjamin Rush of the Zion Church, to whom it had been given by philanthropist Gerrit Smith. This institution was incorporated in 1864 but failed to produce a school. Meanwhile, the church's membership came to center on North Carolina with the missionary work of Bishop James W. Hood (commemorated in Livingstone's Hood Building) and others. The General Conference of 1872, in Charlotte, N.C., authorized the sale of the New York land (an action which was not carried out), and the purchase of land in Fayetteville, N.C., for the school. This effort also failed to bring forth a school. Another such effort was the proposed Zion Hill Collegiate Institute in Middletown, Pennsylvania, which failed in 1871 when the state declined to appropriate support.
The educational aspiration finally found expression in the school that began as Zion Wesley Institute. It all began in November 1875, when A.M.E. Zion pastors Thomas H. Lomax, William H. Thurber and Robert S. Rieves, visiting Concord, N.C., for a general conference of the church, attempted to visit some of their parishioners enrolled in Scotia Seminary for Girls in Concord. They were refused admittance by the president of that school. Humiliated, they met and, seated on a log across the street from the school, determined to found their own school to dispel what they saw as a growing public image of the Zion Church as 'ignorant.' Of these men, it was Thurber, as pastor of the local Concord church, who prepared for the 1877 North Carolina conference a plan to fund such a school. The plan was approved, but by 1879 contributions were still miniscule. At the urging of Bishop Hood and of A.S. Richardson, the agent who had been promoting the school for the Conference, the conference of 1879 voted to open classes in the hope of encouraging support. The Rev. Cicero Richardson Harris (1844-1917), an educator who had been principal of the High School in Charlotte, and the man who had presented Thurber's plan to the Conference in 1877, was made principal of the new school. Classes at the Institute began in December, 1879, across the street from Scotia Seminary, on the site of the aforementioned log. The Concord church had donated seven acres with a farmhouse, largely due to the efforts of Rev. Thurber. The principal, Harris, was along with Hood and Thurber, a trustee of the school, and later was himself an A.M.E. Zion Bishop (1888). The stated goal of the endeavor was "for the training of young men and women for religious and educational work in this country and in Africa."
The first session of school had three students and four teachers on its first day. This increased to twenty pupils when classes resumed, after a recess, in January, 1880.
In assessing Zion Wesley Institute as a development on the North Carolina educational scene, its most important aspect is its heritage as a black institution conceived and operated by black people. It is uncommon in that respect, compared to the usual pattern of black schools being founded by white churches of missionary organizations. In 1879, it shared the North Carolina black educational load with Barber Scotia (Presbyterian, founded 1867) referred to above, Bennett (Greensboro, Methodist, 1873), Johnson C. Smith (then Biddle, Charlotte, Presbyterian, 1867), St. Augustine's (Raleigh, Episcopal, 1867), Shaw (Raleigh, Baptist, 1865), and Fayetteville State College (1867).
The school struggled in Concord, despite the support of the local A.M.E. Zion Church. Very little was collected by the Conference for the school, and the Rush University property in Fayetteville had to be sold to provide operating funds. The school held classes for its second year in fall 1880, under A.S. Richardson, who was a nephew of C.R. Harris and operated for eight months until it closed from lack of funds.
Bishop Hood and supporters of the school were, however, seeking to improve its situation. In the course of this effort, Hood became acquainted with Joseph Charles Price, whom Hood selected as delegate to an 1881 Ecumenical Council in London. While in passage, Hood convinced Price, a powerful orator, to undertake a speaking tour of England for Zion Wesley Institute. Price agreed and, successful, returned to North Carolina in 1882 with $10,000 for the school. Price was elected President of the school, a post he held until his death.
Joseph Charles Price (1854-1893) was an important leader of the black community in his time, a career of possibly national stature cut off by his early death of Bright's Disease. Much of the credit for the survival of Livingstone College must be given to Price, as a fluent and persuasive orator, educator and religious leader whom Josephus Daniels of the Raleigh News and Observer called "the most remarkable Negro I have known." Educated in the schools of New Bern, N.C., where his family moved in 1863 to be behind the Union lines, he became a teacher in Wilson in 1871. He attended Shaw University briefly in 1873 and was converted to Christianity. He earned the A.B. degree from Lincoln University, graduating as valedictorian in 1879, and earned his B.D. there in 1881. He had been licensed to preach in 1876. He was engaged in the North Carolina temperance movement briefly before his trip to London. Price delivered the commencement address at the famous Tuskeegee Institute on two occasions, and in 1890 he addressed the National Education Association, speaking on behalf of Negro education. In 1888 he turned down an offer of the post of U.S. Consul at Liberia, convinced that he could do more important work at Livingstone. In the year of Price's death, Frederick Douglass endorsed him as the best hope of the black population.[12A]
Upon Price's 1882 return, Zion Wesley Institute moved to Salisbury, where A.S. Richardson had generated sufficient enthusiasm in the white community to bring forth a contribution of $1,000. Bishop Hood related in an 1910 retrospective that in addition to the contribution, Salisbury offered easier access from the western part of North Carolina and no competition from other local black schools. The trustees purchased 40 acres and a house from James Gray for $4,600, $900 less than the asking price, with the help of the city's Mayor. Classes resumed in October, 1882. In its new location the school had only three teachers, three students, a matron, and its one building.
Within a year, however, enrollment approached one hundred. The Catalogue of 1883 lists Price, Harris, Edward Moore and William Henry Goler as Professors, with two other teachers. Moore and Goler, classmates of Price's at Lincoln, shared with him an ambition to found a school while there. Moore was to remain with the college until his death in 1927 in the leadership roles of secretary to the faculty and vice-president. Goler (1846-1939) served as second president of the college (1893-1917).
The school quickly had a serious housing shortage that was temporarily met when "Extra buildings were rented and adapted to hold as many as possible, though at great sacrifice of comfort and convenience on the part of students and of trouble and expense on the part of the faculty." Standards were raised, but enrollment remained generally up. In 1883 a two-story frame structure was contributed by the Board of Bishops, and a large contribution by C.P. Huntington, a California philanthropist, covered much of the cost of expanding the original building, now named Huntington Hall. Students now came from 75 towns in North Carolina and from twelve states, including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The curriculum in 1883 consisted of a Normal Course for teachers, a Theological Course for future clergy, and a Classical Course of language and "belle lettres." A Preparatory Department prepared students for the Normal Course. Classes included History, English, Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic and First Lessons in Latin.
Price's eleven-year tenure saw the school struggle, survive, and grow. Zion Wesley College in 1885. That same year the board of trustees voted to change the name of the school to Livingstone College in honor of the noted English missionary, explorer and philanthropist, and the change was enacted by the state in 1887. Physical expansion in the first decade was rapid, and included two buildings that still stand. Dodge Hall was completed as a men's dormitory, with classrooms on the first floor in 1886. it was named for William Earl Dodge (1805-1883), a New York dry goods merchant active in the temperance movement and Republican politics. He was a supporter of Price, and had financed Price's education and London trip.
Ballard Hall was constructed in 1887 to house the Industrial Department. This structure was a gift of Stephen F. Ballard (1816-1901), a New York capitalist impressed with Price's oratory in an A.M.E. Zion church in Asheville in 1882. Hopkins Hall for women, which housed the Stanford Seminary branch of the College, was completed in 1886 but no longer stands.
In 1884, Price stated that "Livingstone College stands before the world today as the most remarkable evidence of self-help among Negroes of this country." while the College itself was a racial self-help project, this emphasis was very evident as well in the practical aspects of the College's educational program. From 1885, the Industrial Department grew in importance under W.H. Goler. Teaching numerous crafts, it filled Ballard Hall with carpentry, shoemaking and printing classes. This combination of training "head, heart and hand," remained important at Livingstone until about 1920, and included the absorption of the East Tennessee Industrial School in 1902.
Contemporaneous with the development of Livingstone was the growth of a closely-related adjacent residential community. The college was in the countryside when it was established, and Price and Goler formed a partnership to buy and develop the surrounding land. Goler acted as agent, and with his building expertise from earlier apprenticeship as a brick mason, he pursued a second career as a contractor here and in other nearby cities, being thus responsible for much of the local construction. Monroe Street was laid off in August, 1885.
Homes in the neighborhood were built for people intimately associated with Livingstone's earliest days. One of the first houses was that of Joseph Price himself (828 West Monroe Street), a Victorian structure constructed in 1884. A home (802 W. Monroe Street) for the Rev. Cicero Harris was completed in 1889. In 1890 the John Dancy house (814 W. Monroe Street) was finished. Dancy, from Tarboro, N.C., was instructor of printing at the college and editor of the A.M.E. Zion publications Star of Zion and A.M.E. Zion Review; an important member of the black community. These homes survive from that period, and others were added later, again largely for Livingstone personnel.
William Henry Goler was named to replace Price upon the latter's death in 1893, and held the position until 1917. Mentioned above as Professor and Head of the Industrial Department as well as real estate developer, he was a multi-faceted individual whose importance to Livingstone perhaps equalled that of Price. A native of Nova Scotia, Goler began his career as an apprentice bricklayer and plasterer, then entered Lincoln University, earning an A.B. in 1878 and the B.D. in 1881. Coming to Livingstone with his classmate Price, he began his double career as educator and contractor. Younger contemporaries describe him as a father figure with a proper English accent and as a strict disciplinarian, economical and dynamic. As president, he presided over the most constructive period in the school's early educational development, consolidating Price's legacy. His home, beside that of Price, was torn down.
During Goler's term, the college grew both physically and educationally. Probably the most important addition to the campus was the Carnegie Library, a gift of philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The library was completed in 1908. The Hood Building, dedicated in 1910 to hold the Hood Theological Seminary, was the next permanent addition. The third major structure which survives was Goler Hall (1917), a dormitory for young women. Other construction in his term consisted of an addition to Ballard Hall in 1900 and its reconstruction after storm damage in 1905, and the construction of a chapel/auditorium in 1902. The Livingstone curriculum remained by intention a mixture of religious instruction, industrial and craft studies, and liberal arts and classical studies. The 1895 Catalogue listed Theological (6 students), Classical (11), Normal (65), Preparatory (50), and Industrial Departments (8), for a total of 148 students (some with double majors) from twelve states. A 1902 Annual records that 4,520 students had attended the school in its twenty years at Salisbury. A military department had been founded, literary societies and the YMCA were active, and the faculty had received full annual salaries for the first time that year. The Industrial Department was prominently listed in the catalog as early as 1888, this in accordance with Price's wish to develop a balanced program to compete with such schools as Hampton Institute as well as meet the A.M.E. Zion Church's need for clergy and teachers. Industrial and trade self-help education was a strong trend in black education of the period. As part of this emphasis, the College absorbed East Tennessee Industrial School in 1902. To meet the Church's requirements, Goler moved to strengthen the theological course as well. In fall, 1903, it was organized as a school itself, and named for Bishop James Walker Hood. By 1905, a Music Course was also added.
One other figure of this period deserves special mention. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey (1875-1927), an outstanding Gold Coast mission student and teacher, came to Livingstone College in 1898 and graduated with a B.A. with highest honors in 1902. He immediately became a student professor, then professor and registrar/financial secretary of the school, posts which he held until 1920. He served on two Phelps-Stokes Commissions studying the African situation, and was completing his doctorate at Columbia at the time of his death. Referred to as Aggrey of Africa for his descent from an African royal family, his intellectual capacities set a high standard at the college.
Student life at Livingstone is mirrored in the pages of the 1905 Catalog. Religious exercises were daily, morning and evening, with Sunday School and Wednesday evening prayer meetings. The Bible was a regular course of study. A regular uniform for men and women, not an original feature of the school, was now required. Josephine Price Sherrill, daughter of Joseph Price, recalls that these uniforms were of blue skirts and white blouses for the women and navy blue trousers and high collar jackets, with black trim, for the men. Students were to be over twelve years old, with a certificate of good moral character. The College had a grammar school until, 1905-1906, and students could enter as early as they could read and write for three years of elementary school, three years in the grammar department, and four years of High School, then continue to College. Standards were strict, with failure in one subject bringing a repeat of the entire year in the upper grades. Social life was closely regulated by the fear-inspiring Matron Tucker, who would watch the students in their Friday night "socials" from the balcony of the chapel/auditorium, to monitor their behavior. The men and women students were forbidden to mix casually on or off campus, and could receive a public reprimand in chapel service from Dr. Goler for doing so. Goler was also not adverse to using the paddle for discipline, and male students would be held over a barrel kept for the purpose in his office for this punishment. Mrs. Tucker disciplined the women. Most students were poor, and much of the college staff was made up of working students. For all this, the College was committed to its students, the faculty's concern for their well-being creating a feeling of family. Besides the socials, literary programs were held featuring orations, and Lyceum programs brought prominent black performers to campus, expanding the school's offerings. Highlights of the year, though, came to be the Thanksgiving football game and the Easter Monday basketball game, both against arch-rival Biddle (now J.C. Smith).
During this period the Monroe Street district was expanded by the building of several college-related homes. The P.A. Stevenson house (714 W. Monroe Street) was completed in 1904. Stevenson (d.1904), was a shoemaking instructor at the College, and his wife taught at the Lincoln School. The Hannum House (924 W. Monroe Street) was constructed in 1904 for William H. Hannum (1869-1942), who taught mathematics at Livingstone for 41 years before his death. Also built in 1904 was the Madison-Miller House (1008 W. Monroe Street) for A.M.E. Zion Church Bishop Elisha L. Madison (1876-1946). James E.K. Aggrey's home (700 W. Monroe Street) was completed in 1912. In 1916 came the home of William Bentley Crittenden (928 W. Monroe Street), mathematics professor from 1900, manager of the Athletics Association, and Director of the Choral Union, while the Wallace-Hall House (912 W. Monroe Street), constructed in 1917 for W.H. Wallace, a Salisbury dentist, was later sold to Professor Louico H. Hall (1879-1964). All of these homes still stand.
Also of importance in the Monroe Street section is Moore's Chapel, an A.M.E, Zion church formally established in 1901, with a sanctuary on land purchased from Goler. The church has maintained a close relationship with Livingstone, moving to its present location shortly after its establishment. Instructor T.W. Wallace and Prof. Aggrey are among Livingstone staff and students who have served as pastors of the congregation, and it met for two years after 1917 in the Hood Building after a fire destroyed their building. The student body, which had walked across town to Soldier's Memorial Church, began attending Moore's Chapel after it appeared, as an offshoot of Soldier's Memorial.
Goler retired as president in 1917, and was replaced by Daniel Cato Suggs (1866-1936), former Chairman of Natural Science and Higher Mathematics at Livingstone and Vice President of Savannah State College in Georgia. Suggs kept the college involved in teacher education with summer schools, and added a commercial curriculum, brick-veneered the now-gone Chapel, enlarged Ballard Hall and built the Price tomb. His term is under a cloud, however, coming at a time when black colleges were losing support due to a 1916 U.S. Office of Education report criticizing their standards.
Suggs was replaced in 1925 by William Johnson Trent, Sr. (1873-1963), who overhauled the curriculum and secured Livingstone College state (1927), and later Southern Association (1945), "A" ratings, restoring the school's academic credibility. The heart of Trent's reforms was the sweeping away of the old departmental scheme and the establishment of a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with up-to-date standards for the B.A. and B.S. degrees in Language, Natural Science, Social Science, and Education. In 1927 the theological and teacher training departments were discontinued and extension courses added. Home economics studies ceased in 1929. The last building of the early period, Price Memorial, was begun in 1930. Completed in 1943, this monument to the school's first president houses Livingstone's administrative offices. Four other major building projects followed. In 1932 the High School was phased out, the curriculum was again rearranged in 1933, and Hood Seminary reappeared in 1939. Trent retired in 1957, and his 1928 Monroe Street home (918 W. Monroe St.) still stands.
By the end of the early period, Livingstone College, although still small, had an impressive physical plant to tide it over the depression period. With Price Memorial Building's 13-year construction, the next structure was a 1947 gymnasium. As a class "B" school of the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges in 1937, the College reported a student population of 215 in April and 184 in December of that year.
Trent was succeeded as president in 1957 by John Henry Brockett (1915- ) who served in an interim capacity until Samuel Edward Duncan took over in 1958. Duncan was followed in 1968 by another interim president, Victor Julius Tulane until the 1969 appointment of F. George Shipman. The period saw increasing expansion of the institution's program with thirteen new structures and annexes since 1955, located predominantly behind the historic area. Recent additions to the campus include Harris Hall, a men's dormitory erected in 1955 with funds raised by the United Negro College Fund; the Mary Reynolds Babcock Hall, a residence hall for women built in 1962; the Aggrey Student Union, completed in 1962; the Walls Heritage House, a gift from A.M.E. Zion Bishop and Mrs. W.J. Walls, dedicated in 1969 for the study of Negro and African life and literature; and Dancy Memorial Hall, a men's residence hall completed in 1972.
At present (1980), Livingstone contains 22 buildings on 272 acres, and has a student body of 921. Faculty number 55.2 full-time equivalent positions. The school still is a part of and receives support from the A.M.E. Zion Church, amounting to $700,000 of the current $6,000,000 annual budget. The school has a small endowment, but its chief budget component, $2,000,000, is presently  Federal program funding. Students come from 23 states and 7 foreign countries to pursue an education in areas ranging from Childhood Education to Engineering to Music.
As Livingstone approaches its centennial, it can look back on a rich and varied history. Founded to support the A.M.E. Zion Church's missionary outreach, it can boast of many clergy of all ranks in the church. It was equally involved in the black self-help movement of the late 19th century, and in the collegiate drive for academic respectability which characterized the early twentieth. The school may take special note of its fully black heritage, this itself a symbol of self-help in a time when most black colleges were being developed by white missionaries. Dedicated leaders like Harris, Goler and Aggrey can provide an example for modern students, while the prominence of Price as a black leader may be a source of special pride. Livingstone, and its surrounding community, have provided a special atmosphere for those associated with it for 100 years. This atmosphere is still present in this very alive Livingstone College Historic District.
Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. From Isolation to Mainstream... Hightstown, N.J.: McGraw Hill, 1971.
Brawley, James S. The Rowan Story 1753-1953. Salisbury: Rowan Printing Company, 1953.
Daniels, Josephus. Tar Heel Editor. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1939.
Hood, J.W. One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church... New York: A.M.E. Zion Book Concern, 1895.
Hood, J.W. "The Origin of Livingstone College" in Atkins, S.G. and Thomas Walker Wallace, eds., The Twenty-fifth Annual Commencement and Quarter Centennial of Livingstone College... Salisbury: Livingstone Press, 1910.
Interview with Abna Aggrey Lancaster, March 10, 1980.
Interview with Josephine Price Sherrill, March 11, 1980.
Laws of North Carolina: 1885, Chapter 25, pp.770-773; 1887, Chapter 49, p.866 (Private).
Interview with F. George Shipman, March 10, 1980.
Livingstone College. Annual Catalog, Salisbury: Livingstone Press, 1927.
Livingstone College. Catalogue... Greensboro: Thomas Brothers, Power Book and Job Printers, 1888.
Livingstone College. Catalogue... Salisbury: Livingstone College Press, nd. (1894-1895)
Livingstone College. Catalogue... Salisbury: Livingstone College Press, 1899.
Livingstone College. Catalogue... Salisbury: Livingstone College Press, 1905.
Livingstone College. Catalog 1973, 74, 75. np: np, nd.
Logan, Frenise A. The Negro in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1964.
McCuiston, Fred. Higher Education of Negroes. Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, 1933.
Marquis-Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume 1607-1896. Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1963.
Meier, August. Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1978.
New York Times, August 11, 13, 1901.
Penry, Elisha G. The History of Moore's Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. unpublished typescript, n.d.
Rountree, Louise M. ...Administrative Profiles for the Centennial Celebration... Salisbury: Livingstone Press, 1980.
Rountree, Louise M. A Brief Chronological History of Black Salisbury-Rowan. Salisbury: n.p., 1976.
Rountree, Louise M. An Index to... The Bishops of the A.M.E. Zion Church. n.p.: n.p., 1963.
Salisbury Evening Post, October 2, 1975, August 23, 1979.
Senior Class of Livingstone College. Livingstone College Annual. Salisbury: Livingstone Press, May 24th, 1902.
Sketch Book of Livingstone College and East Tennessee Industrial School. Salisbury: Livingstone Press?, 1903.
Smith, Edwin W. Aggrey of Africa... Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.
Walls, William J. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church... Charlotte: A.M.E. Zion Publishing House, 1974.
Walls, William J. Joseph Charles Price... Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1943.
Zion Wesley Institute. Catalogue... Greensboro: Thomas, Reece and Company, 1883.
Zion Wesley Institute. Catalogue... Greensboro: Thomas, Reece and Company, 1885.
† Dave Brown, Consultant, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Livingstone College Historic District, nomination document, 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.