Salisbury Academy had its origins in Liberty Hall, an institution established by the Presbyterian Church in Charlotte in about 1771. In 1784 Liberty Hall moved to Salisbury and was renamed Salisbury Academy. Its trustees included John McKnitt Alexander of Charlotte as well as Adlai Osborne, Samuel McCorkle, James Hall, David Caldwell, Thomas Polk, and Maxwell Chambers. Among the teachers were McCorkle and Carl August Gottlieb Storch. After years of decline, the school was revived on 21 May 1807 when the trustees of Salisbury Academy (with Maxwell Chambers as chairman) announced in the Raleigh Minerva that Chambers had "a pile of buildings containing twelve rooms where Latin, Greek, and Science would be taught to both males and females" (separately) by John Brown, formerly a teacher in Wadesborough and later president of Columbia College in South Carolina.
In January 1815 a new main building for the Salisbury Academy was constructed on the Great North Square, across from what would later become the Frank B. John School and was then known as Academy Square. In 1825 the academy received $10,000 from a state lottery, and in 1834 the North Carolina state lottery sold tickets at the Mansion House on the corner of Main and Innes Streets for the benefit of Salisbury Academy. Tickets were sold also in Fayetteville, Asheboro, Wentworth, Hillsborough, Raleigh, Bethania, Mocksville, Pittsboro, and New Bern. The Salisbury Academy lottery met with great success, and one newspaper reported that it "has assumed a truly statewide character and has become a multi-million dollar affair."
In 1838 a new building was constructed on property that faced Jackson Street and was located behind the Presbyterian church. Known as the Wrenn Building-named for Jimmie and Mollie Wrenn, faithful and much-loved members of the church-the tin-roofed structure, plain but substantial, housed the Salisbury Academy and various other Presbyterian schools through the years. Many of Salisbury's future leaders and candidates for the Presbyterian ministry received their secondary school education at the Salisbury Academy before its closing sometime before the Civil War. The Wrenn Building remained standing in the early 2000s.
Charles L. Coon, North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840: A Documentary History (1915).
Neill Roderick McGeachy, Confronted by Challenge: A History of the Presbytery of Concord, 1795-1973 (1985).
Salisbury Historic District: http://www.rowancountync.gov/GOVERNMENT/Departments/RowanPublicLibrary/HistoryRoom/NationalRegister/HistoricDistricts/SalisburyHistoricDistrict.aspx
North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society: http://www.ncphsociety.org/tours.html
1 January 2006 | Linn, Jo White