The Bingham School
Mebane, North Carolina
Internet Archive has the 1905-06 catalog from the Mebane campus. It contains a history of the Bingham schools from 1793. NCpedia also contains a school history as well as the 1885 engraving of the campus.
UNC describes Bingham School as a series of classical preparatory schools. What later became Bingham Military School was begun at Wilmington by the Reverend William Bingham, an Irish Presbyterian minister and educator. Upon his death in 1825, his son William J. Bingham operated the school until his death in 1865. In 1857 his sons William and Robert joined him at the school, improving facilities and raising enrollment. In 1862 Bingham School received a 30-year state charter for a military school. Robert Bingham raised a company and served with Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. William Bingham operated the school until his death in 1873, when Robert returned as headmaster. After losing a lawsuit against William’s widow over the school name and financial interests, Robert Bingham began to operate another Bingham School at Asheville in 1891. The Bingham School at Mebane continued under the leadership of William’s son Herbert and Preston Lewis Gray, William's son-in-law.
Bricks and Mortar
Mebane became the third home for Bingham School in 1864. The Mebane campus was outside the town, alongside the Southern Railroad tracks. The 323-acre campus featured “Midlawn,” which became the residence of Owen Bingham, William’s widow. There were eight student barracks in two facing rows. Each barracks room measured sixteen feet square, with a fireplace. Long porches fronted each barracks. The 1885 engraving shows an “Academy”
and the gymnasium/society building.
Greensboro Daily News visited the remains of the campus in 1948. “Midlawn” was still being used as a private residence. All other buildings were gone except for two barracks buildings, their “chimneys. . . fallen and porches rotting.”
Team name: Cadets
Colors: Black and Red
The main sport of the Mebane campus was baseball. Here the high school boys were able to compete successfully against the likes of North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina A&M, and Furman to contend for the South Atlantic championship.
In football Mebane teams generally competed at the prep level, scheduling Horner Military Academy, Oak Ridge Military Academy, Danville Military Institute and high school teams from Raleigh and Greensboro. In games against college-level opponents, The Cadets defeated North Carolina A&M 22-12 in 1898, played a scoreless draw with Guilford in 1900 and lost to North Carolina 50-0 in 1904.
The Mebane campus also fielded teams in track and field, basketball, and tennis
The catalog shows that the Mebane campus had 96 students--94 from North Carolina—taught by a faculty of six. Among the students were ten coeds. The curriculum offered three diplomas—classical, scientific, and commercial. All required Bible, physical culture, penmanship, English, mathematics, science, and history. Both Latin and Greek were required of classical students. Commercial students could focus on typewriting, bookkeeping or telegraphy.
Music was not a part of a diploma program, but students had music classes, a glee club and a band that performed at a “soiree musicale.” There were two literary societies—Kalisthenic and Polemic, and the school awarded medals for debate, oration and declamation. Mebane also had a chapter of the YMCA with delegates to the state convention.
The Greensboro Daily News states that the date of closure of the Mebane campus is not clear. The campus went on the market in 1921, so apparently the school had closed around that date.
A music class at Bingham School. Image from the 1905-06 catalog.
Bingham School baseball team. Image from the 1905-06 catalog.