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Wed, 09.15.1886

Kittrell College is Founded

*The founding of Kittrell College is celebrated on this date in 1886. It was a two-year historically black college (HBCU).  


Kittrell College was originally chartered in 1885 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Kittrell, North Carolina, as Kittrell Normal and Industrial School. It was founded to train underprivileged Blacks as teachers and artisans. Not long after the first session of classes began the school was rechartered and subsequently renamed as Kittrell Institute. With the second charter, it was able to train ministers as well. Kittrell Institute was once again rechartered in 1899, allowing it to begin post-secondary programs. In 1901, its name was changed for the last time, to Kittrell College.

In 1926, Kittrell College bought four buildings from Duke University: a library, Alspaugh Hall, Craven Memorial Hall, and Crowell Science Building. The purchase was at least partially funded by an endowment given by Benjamin Duke; he and his father, Washington Duke, were long-time donors to Kittrell. Three of the buildings were brought to the Kittrell campus and the B.N. Duke Library was dedicated in October 1929, but the college did not have the funds to move the Crowell Science Building. Kittrell College was closed for three years beginning in 1934 because of financial problems. The college was reorganized and reopened in 1937 but closed once again in 1948.

In 1953, it reopened as a high school and junior college. The college continued high school classes until 1965 when the last high school class graduated. In 1969, the school renovated the B.N. Duke Library for $269,900. It also opened a student center in January 1971 and planned to construct an on-campus dormitory. In the 1970s the school also faced an investigation into the misallocation of federal money and failed to fund-raise enough money to erase debts.

All three buildings from Duke University, including the library, were destroyed by a fire in 1972. Six students were expelled for their alleged connection with the arson. There was also a fire in the business office in March 1973. The last class graduated in 1975 and the school was disbanded shortly after. In 1979, the campus was purchased for a Federal Jobs Corps Center, which has remained in place since. Enrollment at closure was approximately 400. After the college closed, many of its facilities became the Kittrell Job Corps Center campus.           

Revitalization efforts

In 1997, several alumni were reported to be interested in restarting Kittrell College. In December 2020, Stephanie Freeman, a North Carolina educator, proposed to reopen Kittrell College.



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