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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Samarcand Manor

by Julian M. Pleasants, 2006

See also: Samarcand (Research Branch, NCO&H)

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187. Samarcand Manor, officially the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, was a humane correctional institution for young women established near Eagle Springs by the North Carolina state legislature in 1918. The purpose of the school was to reclaim and train delinquent girls by providing a "homelike place where those who have fallen may find temporary shelter, and under a firm yet kind discipline, begin to live morally." The school, built on 230 acres in Samarcand (named for the Muslim city conquered by Alexander the Great that served as his empire's seat of learning and culture), was one of the first institutions of its type in the South. The original clients were young girls or women who had been convicted of being prostitutes, vagrants, or habitual drunkards or who were guilty of any misdemeanor suggesting that they were "not virtuous." There were no definite terms, but the clients could not be held more than three years and were to be released on good behavior.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.Agnes B. MacNaughton became Samarcand's first superintendent, and by 1919 more than 200 women between the ages of 10 and 30 had arrived. In the 1920s the daily program emphasized Bible study, manners, cleanliness, music, nature, and sports in addition to the regular academic subjects. The girls also received vocational training in sewing, weaving, canning, laundry work, and poultry and dairying activities. The program stressed self-reliance and pride in one's work. Between 1928 and 1930 a total of 296 girls were admitted, most between the ages of 12 and 16. By 1930 Samarcand had a hospital and an accredited high school.

In 1931, 16 Samarcand inmates set fire to two dorms and were charged with arson, then a capital crime. While awaiting trial, the girls burned their jail cells. Eight of the 12 involved were eventually sent to prison. Samarcand survived this notorious 1931 incident and other difficulties but was unable to withstand the financial strains of the Great Depression and the siphoning off of staff during World War II. In 1974 the state changed the name of the institution to Samarcand Manor and placed it under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Youth Division. Samarcand became one of five state training schools designed to rehabilitate delinquent children (both male and female) between the ages of 10 and 17. The school shifted its emphasis to treatment and therapy. In the early 2000s Samarcand had approximately 190 clients (40 females and 150 males) and 210 staff members.

References: "Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

Ida Briggs Henderson, "The Work at Samarcand," The State (4 Apr. 1936).

Lisbeth Parrott, "Samarcand Opens Door of Hope to 1,000th Girl in Tenth Year," Raleigh News and Observer, 7 Oct. 1928.

Samarcand Manor: 50th Anniversary, 1918-1968 (1968).

Additional Resources:

State Home and Industrial School for Girls (Samarcand, N.C.). Biennial report of the Board of Directors and Superintendent of the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, Samarcand Manor, Samarcand, N.C. Samarcand, N.C. [N.C.]: The School. 1926-1938. (accessed May 24, 2013).

Samarkand Manor. GoogleMaps.

"Samarcand." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-34, N.C. Office of Archives & History.

McLaurin, Melton Alonza, and Russell, Anne. The Wayward Girls of Samarcand: A true story of the American South. Wilmington, N.C.: Bradley Creek Press. 2012.

Steelman, Ben. "Review - McLaurin, Russell write a gripping yarn." StarNews Media. July 8, 2012.

Gilkeson, Florence. "Samarkand Makes Case to Stay Open." September 24, 2009.  #

Image Credits:

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187.

"Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.

Origin - location: 



Hi, Mollie.
My mother was at Samarcand, but I don't know when. I think some time between 1954 and 1957 (not the whole time). We did not know this about her until just a few weeks ago. By all accounts, Samarcand did wonders for her. She was a model student. She married, had kids and a career. She passed away 6 years ago and I am sure the shame of having been sent to Samarcand is why she never spoke of this period in her life.
I would love to hear your stories and get a sense of life at the manor around that time. If you remembered my mother being there, that would be great, too.
My address is my first name, middle initial, and last name at gmail.
Best wishes,
Serena N Jewell


I agree with you. I stayed in trouble when I got there. They kept working with me. I was there like in the early 90’s. I fell in love with my wonderful teacher Edna Pearl Diggs Mc Donald. R.i. p. She worked hard to teach math and reading. God bless her family.”


I was there 3 times 1996-1999. I learned a lot. Ms McDonald and Mr Hill were great teaches. I made it to transition 3 times and worked outside.I don't forget where I came from....and yes it was haunted.I seen a couple ghoist sightings by the pond. Where Nordan cottage located


that place was like a little orphanage it wasn't bad at all has swimming pool privileges impact privileges you play pool and all kind of stuff and I was a bad child I got sent there from running away really running away and it wouldn't nobody treated me bad


I was there in 89.
I was in irland cottage. The start with after I got out of new beginnings.
Then went to New Horizons before I went home .
I was in a bodybuilding contest there and won 3rd place in my decision. I wish I could get that tap !
They told me once I got out I could come back and get it .
I never knew it would ever close .
Smh , I'm afraid I'll never see that tap . I was 15yrs old . I worked so hard for that trophy in my room . :( I wish I could go back to those days knowing what I know now .


I did kinda like this place call me stupid if you want to BUT it was a whole lot better place to live than where I came from. I sister was there too her name was Peggy


Please let me know if you are out there LIZ I miss you!! Addie 1966 graduate


Anyone still alive that was there over 50 years ago?? Well I am graduated in 1966


Yes, I was there 1956 - 1958, will be 77 years old in October! Wonderful place, very thoughtful workers. I can't remember the name of the gall I lived in but was beside Ireland hall, I think it was the oldest building. I do remember that there were lock cells in the hall where I lived and runaways or trouble makers were put there. My favorite counselor was a Mrs Cameron and I crocheted her a bedspread with yellow roses. I still have the pattern after all these years and I still crochet just about every day!


Wow so nice of you to write!! Wish I knew you then and now!!

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