Wake Forest Historical Museum

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The Early Years

EarlyYears

In 1834 the North Carolina Baptists purchased the Calvin Jones plantation as the site for an institute to educate Baptist ministers. The Calvin Jones House served as home of the first president Samuel Wait and his family. Students worked a part of each day on the plantation, had their classes in the carriage shed, and slept in the cabins originally built for enslaved workers.

The 1850 lithograph shows the original “College Building,” built in 1837 at a cost of about $20,000. The building contained classrooms, library, chapel, and society halls. The Calvin Jones House had been moved to make way for the new structure and is visible in the upper left corner. Following the death of Samuel Wait, the new building was renamed Wait Hall. It was destroyed by fire in 1933.

A dramatic change in the appearance of the campus came during the administration of Dr. Charles Taylor (1884-1905). President Taylor was interested in the academic growth of the college, but also in transforming the landscape into a park-like setting. He selected Tom Jeffries to build the rock wall encircling campus, improve the walkways, and plant thousands of trees and shrubs.

Today the Old Campus, which is the home of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, looks much as it did in the 1950s.

About wakeforestmuseum

This is the Old Well that stands beside the two-story Greek-Revival house in northern Wake County that was purchased by Calvin Jones in 1820 along with 600 acres of land. It is the oldest historic structure in the Town of Wake Forest. Initially used concurrently as a residence, doctor’s office, and post office, the property was sold in 1832 to the North Carolina Baptist Convention, which was seeking a suitable location to educate young ministers. What is now Wake Forest University opened here in 1834 and, under the guidance of first President Samuel Wait, began to develop a flourishing student body, advanced curriculum, and new brick campus. Today the Calvin Jones House is part of a four acre complex that includes gardens, pathways, and a state of the art museum. The house is furnished to reflect the period of its various residents, and the museum’s extensive displays depict the history of college and town.

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2013 by in Exhibits and tagged , , , , , , .
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