north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     James Hunter Horner established the Horner School on the outskirts of Oxford in Granville County in 1851. The school, which alternately was called the Horner School, the Graves School, and the Horner Military Academy, remained one of the premier academies in North Carolina throughout its six decades of operation. As Horner aged, his sons continued to operate the school in Oxford until fire destroyed large parts of the campus in 1914. At that time the Horner Military Academy moved to the Myers Park suburb of Charlotte, where it remained it closed in 1920.

     The founder of the Horner School, James H. Horner, was born near Rougemont, in present-day Durham County. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1844 and subsequently taught at the Hillsborough Academy and the Oxford Male Academy before opening the Horner School in 1851. The school centered on mathematics, science, and classical studies, and originally did not have a military focus. The school closed briefly during the Civil War, during which time Horner served as a Captain in the 23rd North Carolina Regiment. Following his return from service, in 1862 the school reopened and continued operation.

     In 1870, Horner partnered with R. H. Groves to form the Horner and Graves School. The facility, still located in Oxford, was moved to Hillsborough in 1874 to occupy the vacant grounds of the former North Carolina Military Academy. Graves died in 1876 and Horner fell ill around the same time, which led to the failure of the school in Hillsborough. In 1876, with the support of his two sons, Jerome and Junius, Horner moved the Horner School back to its original location in Oxford. He remained a teacher at the school, but turned over operation to his sons.

     In 1879 Jerome C. Horner, who attended Davidson College and served as principal at the Ablemarle Academy in Edenton, worked for a year at Cape Fear Military Academy. He gained experience for the conversion of the Horner School to a military academy, and upon his return changed the Horner School to the Horner Military Academy. Barracks were constructed for the students and a large schoolroom was used. Horner Military Academy operated in Oxford as one of the premier military academies in the state until its campus was damaged by fire in 1914.

     Upon the destruction of its campus in Oxford, Jerome Hunter was offered several potential locations in the state to reestablish the school. Hunter moved the Horner Military Academy to Charlotte, onto the grounds of a former school in Myers Park, in 1914. The school continued at the site until 1920, at which time Jerome Hunter retired and the academy closed after almost seventy years of operation.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 206-207—sketches by William S. Powell
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Bill Sharpe, A New Geography of North Carolina, II (1958)
“Gone But Not Forgotten: North Carolina’s Educational Past,” website mounted by North Carolina Collection, UNC Library:
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Class of 1900 at Horner Military School, Oxford

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources