Doctor Calvin Jones, a noted physician and former mayor of Raleigh who moved from Massachusetts in 1795, was an original founder of the North Carolina Medical Society before purchasing a 615 acre farm in northern Wake County in 1820. The region, known as the “Forest of Wake,” lent its name to his plantation: Wake Forest.
The Calvin Jones House, which also served as doctor’s office and post office, was home to Dr. Jones and his family for a dozen years. But by 1832, Dr. Jones wanted to move west. His good friend John Purefoy, a Baptist minister from nearby Forestville, persuaded the North Carolina Baptist Convention to purchase the farm called Wake Forest and establish a literary school to produce Christian leaders of quality and education. Within two years, boys as young as twelve could trade manual labor for religious training at the facility known as Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute.
Under the tutelage of first president Samuel Wait, a New York native, the school unexpectedly soared, admitting larger classes of older students eager to study Greek and Latin, philosophy and the classics. Samuel Wait was a strong leader, working to raise funds for the boys’ education throughout the institution’s early years.
By 1837 the school no longer relied on manual labor for tuition. Its sole focus was education. And it was renamed Wake Forest College.