BINGHAM SCHOOL (MEBANE LOCATION)

BINGHAM SCHOOL (MEBANE LOCATION)


In 1844 William James Bingham moved to the Oaks section of Orange County, southwest of Hillsborough, to establish what he called a select classical and mathematical school. In 1855, the school closed due to Bingham's declining health. In 1857, Bingham's sons William, Jr. and Robert joined him in partnership, and the school reopened, with double the previous enrollment, as W. J. Bingham and Sons. In 1863 the elder Bingham's illness and Robert Bingham's absence in the army obliged William, Jr. to take over operations [1].
 
The school was chartered (incorporated) by an act of the North Carolina Legislature of 1864-65, with William Bingham, William B. Lynch, and Stuart White being the incorporating members [2]. In January 1865 most of the Bingham family moved from Oaks to a new location closer to the North Carolina Railroad east of the town of Mebane (first called Mebane's Station, then Mebanesville, until 1883), to start the new Bingham School, with classes beginning in February 1865 [3]. The school initially rented or utilized a property of William B. Lynch on a temporary basis until a "better" site could be found (something that did not occur, by the way, until 1891) [4].
 
The military training aspect of the school, which began at the beginning of the Civil War in early 1861, was formally integrated into and made the focus of the new school's curriculum. The school's officers were commissioned by the State, and its pupils were exempted from military service (i.e. being conscripted during the war) until they were 18 years old [5]. The war ended locally in April 1865, which brought Robert Bingham back to North Carolina and ended conscription and mandatory military service for the students.
 
In late 1865, William J. Bingham bought out Lynch and Smith's shares in the corporation. In 1866 William died, and his sons William, Jr. and Robert took over the school. In January 1867, William, Jr. purchased property from William B. Lynch, and in August 1867, he purchased property from Thomas B. Thompson, which would have formed the main school property [6]. From 1865 to 1873, no new building construction occurred [7]. Applications to the school dwindled, mainly due to the impermanent aspect of the school's campus and there being better, more modern schools elsewhere. In 1873, William, Jr. died of malaria while on a trip to Gainesville, Florida, and Robert took over as superintendent.
 
Robert immediately spent $7,500 on the school, to include a new academic building; with expanded attendance it was soon outgrown and an additional $1,500 was spent to enlarge the building [8]. The log buildings that were previously used as dorms (and four as classrooms) were torn down circa 1876 [9].The new academic building burned in early 1882, so Robert immediately spent $11,000 on new school buildings [10]. The new buildings consisted of a two-story academy building, dormitories, gymnasium and society rooms, and a new house for Robert; they were mostly built in mid-1882, with T. C. Oakley of Durham as the main contractor [11].
 
In 1884, another fire occured on the campus, destroying a "messing club" operated by Mary White [12].
 
In December 1890, the school's academic buildings again burned down; soon afterwards part of the dorms also burned down [13]. In 1891, not desiring to rebuild at the same location, and due to arguments with family members over the administration of the school, Robert moved to Asheville and established a new Bingham School there.
 
After the school moved to Asheville in 1891, William Bingham’s widow, Owen W. Bingham, operated an academy at the Mebane school site that she named The William Bingham School.

The principals of the school while at this location were William Bingham, Jr., 1864-1873; Robert Bingham and Owen Bingham, 1873-1891; Herbert Bingham circa 1892-1896; Mary Stuart, 1896-189?; Preston L. Gray, 189?-190?.

 

From the January 30, 1865 Daily Confederate newspaper (Raleigh)

Advertisement, 1867
 
The buildings and grounds of Bingham School at Mebane as depicted in an engraving on the school's letterhead, 1885. (From the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina)
 
 
Campus diagram, circa 1893 (via Phil Mace)
 
Excerpt from the August 23, 1884 Orange County Observer
 
Bingham School's postmasters, 1882 to 1891 (via the North Carolina Postal History Society)
 
Advertisement for "Bingham Camp," circa 1905
 
 
The only feature that remains from the school at its original site is the brick gateway that students would walk through upon boarding or disembarking from the train (HWY 70 was not constructed until the 1920s).
 
The structures that were once on campus are/were the:
 
Bath house and water works
 
Gymnasium and society hall
 
Academy building
 
Boiler house
 
Gas house
 
Mess hall
 
Conservatory
 

BINGHAM SCHOOL GATE / BRICK COLUMNS

street: ,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1873-1885
Construction type: 
,

 

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  • Mon, 12/26/2022 - 5:26pm by SteveR

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street: ,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1873-1885
Object Type: 
Construction type: 
,

 

This brick entrance gate to Bingham School was built sometime between 1873 and 1885 [1]. It originally held a wooden gate, with split-rail fencing along each side of it [2]. 

In the school's catalog for 1908-1909, it is mentioned that: "...the trains stop at the School gate. Here the boys are met, welcomed and made to feel at home" [3].

1972

View south (S. Rankin, 2018)

View north; the school would have been in the distance (S. Rankin, 2018)

View west (S. Rankin, 2018)

View south-east (S. Rankin, 2018)

 

ENDNOTES
[1] No money was spent by the Binghams on new construction until 1873, and the gate is shown in an 1885 diagram of the school campus
[2] The Alamance Gleaner, June 22, 1882 (via Phil Mace)
[3] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1908-1909
(NOTE: I would like to thank David Southern for pointing these columns out to me many, many years ago.)

 

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BELGROVE

,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1921-1933
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,

Part of the Bigham School complex

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  • Mon, 12/26/2022 - 5:23pm by SteveR

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,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1921-1933
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,

 

"Belgrove" was part of the Bigham School complex, and stood at the entrance to the campus [1]. It was used as the superintendent's house [2], the school's principal's house [3], and later by the music department and as offices [4].

It was demolished by 1933.

From the 1905-1906 school catalog

From the 1909-1910 school catalog

 

ENDNOTES

[1] As depicted on the 1885 diagram of the school campus

[2] Ibid

[3] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1905-1906

[4] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1909-1910

 

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BINGHAM SCHOOL BARRACKS / DORMITORIES

,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1955-1972
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Type: 
Use: 

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  • Mon, 12/26/2022 - 5:20pm by SteveR

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,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1955-1972
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

The barracks/dormitories were built in mid-1882 [1]. T.C. Oakley of Durham was the contractor [2]. They replaced several log structures that had been used as dorms and classrooms [3].

They were described as "carefully constructed by Mrs. Wm. Bingham, at great cost, and were expressly designed for safety, comfort, health, free ventilation, lighting, heating, and freedom from dampness" [4].

A 1905 description of them is "The dormitories are in eight sections, with six rooms to each section.Three of these sections are on the east side and three on the west of a rectangular court, of which the main school building forms the north side" [5].

Each section of was described as "one story high and one room deep, metal-roofed and having fire-proof brick walls at each end...with brick foundation pillars two feet above ground." Each room measured 16 feet by 16 feet "with door opening on the veranda, transom above, window opposite, and open fire-place..." [6. Each room was "furnished with new iron beds and springs, mattresses, table, wash-stand and book rack" [7].
 
The court between the barracks was described as "336 feet long and more than 104 feet broad, divided by gravel walks into plats of smooth green glass, and well shaded by poplar and maple trees" [8].
 
Remnants of the barracks can be viewed in the 1955 aerial photograph of the area, but they have since been demolished and/or fallen down from neglect.
 
 
View north, circa 1905
 
View north, circa 1908 postcard
 
Exercising adjacent to the barracks, circa 1909
 
View north east, circa 1905

 

ENDNOTES:
[1] The Alamance Gleaner, Jun 22, 1882 (via Phil Mace)
[2] Ibid

[3] Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 157

[4] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1904-1905
[5] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1908-1909
[6] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1904-1905; The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1908-1909
[7] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1908-1909
[8] Ibid

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BINGHAM HOUSE / MIDLAWN

,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1972-1979
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,

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  • Mon, 12/26/2022 - 5:14pm by SteveR

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,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882
/ Demolished in
1972-1979
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,

 

This structure was built in mid-1882 [1]. T.C. Oakley of Durham was the contractor [2]. It was the school president's home.

An addition to the rear of the structure was moved east of Mebane in 1943 [3]. Midlawn was demolished in the 1970s.

Circa 1905

Circa 1909

Midlawn in the background, 1909

View north, 1972

View ?, 1972

Exterior, architectural details, 1972

Front door, 1972

Architectural details, 1972

Interior, main stairs, 1972

Interior, architectural details, 1972

Interior, architectural details, 1972

(The photos from 1972 are from The Alamance Gleaner, via Phil Mace. The earlier photos are from the Bingham School catalogs of 1904-1905 and 1908-1909.)

 

ENDNOTES:
[1] The Alamance Gleaner, June 22, 1882 (via Phil Mace)
[2] Ibid
[3] Mebane Presbyterian Church News, Vol. X, No. 1, December 1944. Pp. 3-4.

 

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6510 US 70 W. / EAST MEBANE PRESBYTERIAN SUNDAY SCHOOL

6510
,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1885-1900
/ Modified in
1943
,
2006-2015
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

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  • Sat, 12/17/2022 - 9:06am by SteveR

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6510
,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1885-1900
/ Modified in
1943
,
2006-2015
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 
,

 

This building has been described as the library and/or the "Old Bingham School Kitchen" from the nearby Bingham School [1]; looking at photos of the school, it appears that it was a rear addition to "Midlawn," which was the school's president's house (a.k.a the Bingham House). The structure appears to have been built sometime between 1885 and 1900.

In August 1943, Norman and Besie Wood conveyed this property/lot to the trustees of Mebane Presbyterian Church [2]. The church then purchased the structure from the Dorsett family [3]. On December 2, 1943, the structure was moved from its original location at the Bingham School to this lot, and was used as the East Mebane Presbyterian's Sunday School building [4].

Part of the rear "ell" of the structure was the original Sunday School building, which the church had outgrown. The structure was later (by the 1950s) used for prayer meetings [5].

The structure in its original location at the Bingham School, circa 1905 (indicated by red arrow)

 

(All the above photos were via Phil Mace, via Peter Sandbeck/OCDEAPR)

 
View south, October 2021 (via Google Streetview)
 
 
ENDNOTES:
[1] Phil Mace, personal communication
[2] Orange County deed book 118, page 187.5
[3] From the Mebane Presbyterian Church archives, via Phil Mace
[4] Phil Mace, personal communication
[5] Mebane Presbyterian Church News, Vol. X, No. 1, December 1944. Pp. 3-4.

 

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THE COTTAGE (BINGHAM SCHOOL)

,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882-1905
/ Demolished in
1920-1933
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,
Use: 
,

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In tours

Last updated

  • Mon, 12/26/2022 - 5:15pm by SteveR

Comments

,
Mebane
NC
Built in
1882-1905
/ Demolished in
1920-1933
Architectural style: 
Construction type: 
,
Type: 
,
Use: 
,

 

Used as housing by visiting parents, guardians, and/or faculty of the Bingham School. Mr. Lindon Chandler occupied the structure in the early 1900s [1]. It was built sometime between 1882 and 1905.

Circa 1905

 

ENDNOTES
[1] The Bingham School, Catalogue for Session 1905-1906
 

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ENDNOTES
[1] William S. Powell (ed.). The Encyclopedia of North Carolina.
[2] Journal of the Senate of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina at its Session of 1864-'65. Raleigh: Wm. E. Pell, 1866; Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 150. Supreme Court of North Carolina. Bingham School vs. P. L. Gray et al. February term, 1898; Robert I. Curtis, The Bingham School and Classical Education in North Carolina, 1793-1873, North Carolina Historical Review (July 1996): 352. Bingham, Lynch, and White received a charter for 30 years, which took effect March 1, 1865.
[3] Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 151; The Daily Confederate, January 30, 1865. (Raleigh, NC)
[4] Ibid, 157; Supreme Court of North Carolina. Bingham School vs. P. L. Gray et al. February term, 1898. Pp93-94; Phil Mace, personal communication. William and Robert Bingham attempted to purchase the former Hillsborough Military Academy campus from Charles Tew's widow, but she was unwilling to sell the property.
[5] Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 151; Charles Lee Smith. The History of Education in North Carolina, Contributions to American Educational History No. 3, 1888, No. 2
[6] Orange County deed book 39, page 166; book 39, page 170; Phil Mace, personal communication
[7] Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 157
[8] Ibid, 158
[9] Ibid, 157, 158
[10] Ibid, 158
[11] The Alamance Gleaner, June 22, 1882 (via Phil Mace)
[12] The Orange County Observer, August 23, 1884
[13] Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina. Department of Public Instruction, 1898. 159.