Littleton College Victim to 1919 Fire

Littleton College in Halifax County, North Carolina

Students and faculty at Littleton College, circa 1892.
Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Public Libraries.

On January 22, 1919, fire consumed a majority of the buildings on the campus of Littleton College in Halifax County. No lives were lost, but the devastation was so complete–damages exceeding $50,000–that the owner could not raise the money to rebuild and the school closed.

Originally opened in January 1882 as the for-profit Central Institute, the school received a legislative charter that same year. It was conceived as a place for “the intellectual, moral, and religious development and training of young ladies.” The all-female institute was affiliated with the Methodist Church.

The first principal of the institute was Reverend James Manley Rhodes, himself a graduate of Trinity College. In 1887, Rhodes left the institute for another female college but he returned in 1889.

Upon his return, Rhodes purchased the college property from the original stockholders.  In the intervening year, 1888, the charter had been amended to change the name of the school to Littleton Female College.

Rhodes created a two-year program including such courses as chemistry, physics, stenography, languages and history. In 1912, the word “Female” was dropped from the name.

Tragically, the fire occurred at the height of the school’s popularity.

Check out NCpedia for more on the history of education, in North Carolina.

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