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



Marker Text:

     Saint Augustine’s College was chartered in 1867 and classes began on January 13, 1868. Episcopal Bishop Thomas Atkinson pressed for the creation of St. Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute “for the purpose of educating teachers for the colored people of the state of North Carolina and elsewhere in the United States.” Bishop Atkinson said, “Such a school seems altogether indispensable to the effectual accomplishment of the good work on which the Church has entered,” meaning the work with freedmen.

     J. Brinton Smith, who had come to North Carolina from New Jersey in 1866 to work with the Freedmen’s Commission, was hired as the school’s first principal. On his death in 1872, he was succeeded by John E. C. Smedes. The principal’s residence was located in the center of present Blount Street at its junction with North Street, facing southward. When Blount was extended, the house, also known as the Polk or Rayner House, was moved.

     St. Augustine’s began to offer junior college courses in the early 1920s and in 1928 gained four-year college status. Despite persistent financial difficulties, St. Augustine’s ten years later “had become and remained the country’s major college for blacks sponsored by and supported by the Episcopal Church.”

Cecil D. Halliburton, A History of St. Augustine’s College, 1867-1937 (1937)
Lawrence F. London and Sarah M. Lemmon, eds., The Episcopal Church in North Carolina, 1701-1959 (1987)
National Register nomination:
Saint Augustine’s College website:
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

St. Augustine's College, ca. 1946

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