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Livingstone College

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Some Livingstone College History

By Reginald W. Brown

Livingstone College began as Zion Wesley Institute in Concord, North Carolina in December 1879 for the purpose of training ministers and Christian laity for the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. This was the fourth attempt to establish a school for the A.M.E. Zion Church that ended with its closure after three sessions in May 1881.  Ineffective fund raising strategies relegated the institute’s existence to a legal document on paper.

The fifth attempt was successful. It began when Bishop James Walker Hood persuaded Rev. Joseph Charles Price to become the institute’s chief fund raising agent during the September 1881 Ecumenical Methodist Conference in London, England. Bishop Hood returned to America after the conference while Rev. Price remained in England until he raised over $10,000 by the spring of 1882.

While Rev. Price was in England, over 38.aces of land and a farmhouse known as Delta Grove was purchased from James Madison Gray in Salisbury, N.C. in the Spring of 1882 The trustees of the institute lead by Bishop Hood purchased the land with $3,000 from England and over $1,000 donated from the black and white citizens of Salisbury. Delta Grove located in the suburbs of Salisbury, NC , 20 miles north of Concord, at the time of purchase became the permanent home of Zion Wesley Institute and its successors. The farmhouse that was the residence of J. M. Gray, a local attorney, became Huntington Hall in honor of Collis P. Huntington, a railroad magnet.

The institute opened in October 1882 with Rev. Price as President and was organized as departments designed to instruct students on grammar school through collegiate and theological levels of education. The grammar school qualified students for the normal course designed for teacher training. Normal school graduates were admitted to the collegiate course. By 1892 the theological department began training graduates from the collegiate department. In later years the collegiate department became the School of Arts and Science, the normal school became Livingstone High School, and the theological department evolved into Hood Theological Seminary.

On February 19, 1885 the institute was re-chartered as Zion Wesley College. In February 1887, Zion Wesley College was renamed Livingstone College in honor of Dr. David Livingstone who was a missionary, doctor, explorer, scientist and anti-slavery activist who spent 30 years exploring the continent of Africa and serving as an advocate for African people.

Livingstone College began the twentieth century by consolidating with the Salisbury Colored Normal School in 1900, followed by the East Tennessee Industrial School in 1902. The Ph. D. program that began in 1895 was terminated in 1902. The lower grades were eliminated by 1906. The Andrew Carnegie Library was constructed in 1908 and the Hood Theological Seminary building was completed in 1910 and dedicated in May 1911.

The second quarter of the twentieth century was Livngstone’s first nadir. Constuction of the Price Memorial building that began around 1921 was not completed until 1943 due to a lack of funds and dwindling resources. The industrial department was closed.  Hood Theological Seminary ceased to exist as a graduate program and the teacher education course discontinued in 1927. Livingstone College High School was phased out to become Price High School in 1932. A major reorganization took place between 1925 and 1940 that led to the reopening of Hood Theological Seminary as a graduate school, full accreditation of the College, associate membership of the Seminary in a leading accrediting agency, and the completion of the Price Memorial Building. By the third quarter of the twentieth century, Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary were on a more secure financial footing.

The building boom that began in the 1940’s and 50’s continued during the 1960’s and early 1970’s characterized the third quarter of the twentieth century. Improvements and additions to academic programs and the physical plant were made. The fourth quarter of the twentieth century was the second nadir that nearly closed the College and Seminary in 1987. Once again Livingstone pulls a miracle on Monroe Street and continues to serve as a “four-year undergraduate, private, African Methodist Episcopal Zion affiliated, co-educational, residential, liberal arts, historically black college.” Today Hood Theological Seminary and Livingstone College exist as separate and independent institutions.

More information on David Livingstone:

Livingstone College website:


Laws and Resolutions of the General Assembly at its SESSION of 1885; Chapter 25, pages 770 - 773. An Act to Incorporate Zion Wesley College, Ratified the 19th day of February, A.D. 1885. Raleigh, North Carolina @ North Carolina Archives (Also H.B. 308 to be entitled: An Act to Incorporate Zion Wesley College copy of handwritten rough draft.)

Catalogue of Zion Wesley College 1884-85 p. 25; Fonvielle, p.15; & State of North Carolina General Assembly SESSION of 1885: Chapter 25 of the Private Laws pp. 770 - 773: State Department of Archives & History; Raleigh, NC

An Act to amend chapter 25 of the private laws of 1885 and change the name of Zion Wesley College to Livingstone College - The General Assembly of North Carolina Session 1887; Chapter 49

Goler, William H. Quadrennial Report of the President of Livingstone College.   Salisbury, NC.: 1904 n.p. (From an original copy: Heritage Hall)

Walls, William J. Joseph Charles Price Educator and Race Leader. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House 1943

Walls, William J. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: Reality of the Black Church. Charlotte, NC:A.M.E. Zion Publishing House 1974.

Minutes: J. W. Hood. Bishop’s Address: Education. Third Annual Session, North Carolina Conference; pg. 10. & Lewis, Oscar. The Big Four. The recollection of George E. Miles the secretary of Colis P. Huntington referred to him as “... the Negro Principal of the Salisbury School in North Carolina.” New York: Alfred Knopf Co., 1930; p. 262 )

Schools, Salisbury City. Salisbury Schools Papers: Isenberg, Harold D. Superintendent, XIII. 50th Anniversary Edition of the Salisbury Schools as a tottaly separate school system. 3 March 1971

[History of Monroe Street and Price Jr. Sr. High Schools]
[Brawley, James S. “Rowan County Was Slow In Accepting Idea Of Public Education”. Salisbury Sunday Post, June 15, 19?2; no.21. Salisbury, NC]
[Teacher’s Directory, City Schools of Salisbury, NC 1934-35]
Rowan Public Library: Edith M. Clark History Room: 201 West Fisher   Street: Salisbury, NC 28145-4039

Carolina Watchman: Salisbury Weekly Vol. XIII #50: September 27, 1882

Livingstone College.Catalogue of Livingstone College 1887-88; 1894-95

Livingstone College. Catalogue of Livingstone College 1901/1902-1904/1905. Salisbury, NC; Livingstone College Press [National Endowment for the Humanities
Preservation Grant 3 1995] [N. Y. Public Library: Fifth Ave. Branch]

Livingstone College. Catalogue of Livingstone College 1911 - 12 Salisbury, NC.   Lynchburg, VA; J.P. Bell Company, Inc. Printers 1911-12. pp. 2-11; 19; 32-37 [Heritage House]

Livingstone College. Catalogue of Livingstone College 1921-22, Salisbury, NC, Peeler’s
Printer pp. 5-16; 23-29;47,48 Catalogue of Livingstone College 1924-25. p 13; 1925-26, pp. 6,7,62,63; 1927-28, pp. 39-43; 1930-31, pp. 5, 7, 10-14; 1932-33, pp. 54-57;

Livingstone College. Livingstone College Catalog 1935-36, pp. 6, 16; 1936-37, pp.5, 16, 55-60;1937-38, pp.7,8,18,58-60; 1938-39, pp. 7,8; 1939-40, pp. 8,60-70; 1940-41, pp. 7, 8, 64-75; 1942-43, pp. 6, 7, 81; 1944-45, pp.81, 85;1945-46, pp. 6-9, 55; 1946-47, pp. 63-66, 75-77; 1947-48, pp. 71-

Zion Wesley College. Catalogue of Zion Wesley College 1884-85, Salisbury, NC, Salisbury, NC pp. 23-35

Bradshaw Place: Register of Deeds: Rowan County, N.C.: Book 52; Page 204
Grantor: John A. Bradshaw & Mary B. Bradshaw (Insurance Agent)
Grantee: James Madison Gray Sr. (Lawyer)
Date: April 28, 1876 (38.25 acres: Statesville Rd.)

Delta Grove: Register of Deeds: Rowan County, N.C.: Book 62; Page 265
Grantor: James Madison Gray
Grantee: Zion Wesley Institute (38.25 acres: Statesville Rd.)
Date: August 8, 1882

Shipman, F. George Report of the President of Livingstone College to the Board of
Trustees: September 27, 1979

Joiner, Bernard From The President to the General Conference 1992-1996. Washington, DC:1996

Younge, Dr. J. W., Interim President. The President’s Report to the Board of Trustees of Livingstone College. Salisbury, N. C. September 23, 1982