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The Reverend William Bingham (1754-1826), a native of Ireland who was educated in Scotland, became principal of Hillsborough Academy in 1813, but departed by 1815 in order to establish his own school. Bingham wished to raise his children in the country. Known as Mount Repose, Bingham’s school was about ten miles northwest of Hillsborough. At Mount Repose, the thirty-five to forty male pupils lived and studied in log cabins. The school’s classic curriculum and reputation for academic excellence drew students from as far away as Louisiana.
When Reverend Bingham died in 1826, his son, William James Bingham (1802-1866), finished out the year as principal at Mount Repose and then closed the school in order to take the helm of Hillsborough Academy. He remained there until 1844 when, like his father before, he left to open a school at Oaks, west of Chapel Hill.
The Bingham family, including Reverend William Bingham, William James Bingham, and his sons William and Robert Bingham, was an important force in education in North Carolina for over one hundred years. The various schools with which the Binghams were associated were often called Bingham School, making it appear that one campus was moved from place to place over the years.
In chronological order, the schools were: 1) Hillsborough Academy, located in Hillsborough, served by the Reverend William Bingham, 1813 to about 1815; 2) Mount Repose, operated by Reverend William Bingham, ca. 1815 to 1827 (his son William James served a partial final year); 3) Hillsborough Academy, served by William James, 1827-1844; 4) Mount Repose, located in Alamance County, served by the Reverend William Bingham, 1815-1826, and by William James Bingham to close out 1826 school year; and 5) W. J. Bingham’s Select School or Oaks (later Bingham School), initially opened at Oaks, in western Orange County.
The latter operated at Oaks until William Bingham (1835-1873), William James Bingham’s son, took over as principal, incorporated it as Bingham School, and moved the campus to Mebaneville (present-day Mebane) in 1864. When his brother William died in 1873, Robert Bingham became principal of the Bingham School. He moved the campus to Asheville in 1891, where it remained, closing the year after Robert’s death in 1927.
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)—sketches of “Hillsborough Academy” and “Bingham School” by Jean B. Anderson
Robert I. Curtis, “The Bingham School and Classical Education in North Carolina, 1793-1873,” North Carolina Historical Review (July 1996): 328-377
Hugh Lefler and Paul Wager, eds., Orange County, 1752-1952 (1953)
Carole Watterson Troxler and William Murray Vincent, Shuttle & Plow: A History of Alamance County, North Carolina (1999)