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Parochial School

By 1900, the O'Donoghue School was the oldest private school in Charlotte. It was established on August 27, 1887 by the Sisters of Mercy. It was first called St. Mary's Seminary. This school was for children whose parents wanted them to receive a Catholic education.  In 1905, the school moved to a larger building at 531 South Tryon Street, and changed its name to the O'Donoghue School after the school's benefactor, Dr. Dennis O'Donoghue.

South Graded School

South Graded School was located at 1001-1015 South Boulevard on the the corner of Morehead Street. Built in 1858, the South Graded School was originally the North Carolina Military Institute. During the Civil War, the institute served as both a hospital and a Federal Prison. It became the city's first tax-supported public school in Charlotte In 1883. In its latter years as a public school, it served only as an elementary school (D.H. Hill Elementary) for the South side of the city.


In the very early 1900s, students living in town walked to their neighborhood schools. The term was shorter than it is today by about three months. Students studied what most most people referred to as "the three “R’s,  reading, ‘riting, and rithmetic." Latin and Greek were the main foreign languages taught at this time. Recess is everyone’s favorite time to play games and talk to their friends. There are a number of private academies for both girls and boys. Several colleges in Charlotte provide opportunities for higher learning so students do not have to leave Charlotte.

Baird School For Boys

The Baird School for Boys  was run by Major J.G. Baird of South Carolina  who purchased the wooden  building once used by the Macon School for Boys, which closed in 1890. Originally, Baird called the school  the Charlotte Military Institute because military tactics were taught at the school. Later he erected the brick building seen here, which was on Poplar Street and changed the name to the Baird School for Boys. The school continued from 1890 until his death in 1927.

North Carolina Medical College

The North Carolina Medical College receives a charter in 1892. Originally the medical school is located at Davidson College, but the upper classes attend school in Charlotte near the Presbyterian Hospital at Trade and Mint Street. In 1907, all of the medical students occupy this building on Sixth and Church Streets.

Biddle University (Now Johnson C. Smith University)

First known as Biddle Memorial Institute, the school was founded in 1870 on Beatties Ford Road by the Catawba Presbytery. Colonel W.R. Myers donated the land. The school was named for Henry Biddle husband of its financial benefactor, Mary D. Biddle of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Higher Education for Men in Charlotte

Educational opportunities for men were primarily designed to train them for a profession. In Charlotte, there are a number of business schools, including Charlotte Commercial College, Kings Business College, and the Wharton Normal and Industrial College. There are also two, four-year colleges near Charlotte, Biddle University and Davidson College. The North Carolina Medical College relocated to Charlotte  from Davidson College in 1907.

Presbyterian College for Women

Presbyterian College for Women opened its doors in 1896. It was located at 600-616 North College Street on the corner of 9th Street. Young women from around the Carolinas attended this liberal arts school. In 1912, Presbyterian College becomes Queens College and moved to its current location Selwyn Avenue. Today, it is known as Queens University and is co-ed.

Elizabeth College

Although there are very fine institutions of learning for young women throughout the state, most of the private schools are not designed to prepare young women for a profession other than teaching or nursing. However, larger cities, like Charlotte, have schools such as Kings Business College and the Fleming University of Shorthand. Both institutions offer training in office skills.

Reading List

Here is a reading list that a teacher might have assigned students at the turn of the last century. Some of the books are classics, like Robin Hood,  and some would have been just published.

Dusk jackets of the books appearing on the reading list.

The Call of the Wild    - 1903 by Jack London