Reidsville, North Carolina
Local newspaper coverage of Reidsville Seminary comes primarily from the Reidsville Review. Images from the school are found on the Rockingham County Community College website. The 1912 ad is from the North Carolina Year Book.
1896 graduating class. Image from Rockingham Community College, North Carolina Collection.
Reidsville Female Seminary was founded by Miss Emily Jane Scales, sister of the governor. In 1890 the Review described it as “one of the best equipped schools for the culture and training of young misses in the state.” 1885 enrollment was reported as “sixty-odd.” The three-member faculty included a primary teacher and a music teacher in addition to the preceptress, who apparently taught all upper school subjects. These included Latin, French, and physical culture. The school was responsible for fostering “health, associations, and deportment” in its girls and young ladies.
After 1900 the seminary changed. First, while some boys had been admitted earlier as day students, the school now became fully coeducational with a name change omitting the word “Female.” Second, it began to emphasize a practical education. A new “practical business course,” was instituted. A normal course was added to prepare those students who wanted to become teachers. The course of studies was now advertised as preparing students for college admission. The increased course of studies required an increase in faculty. By 1906 the 125 students were taught by a faculty of 8. By 1909, Under Professor H. A. Hayes, enrollment grew to “nearly two hundred students.”
Reidsville Seminary had long been a source of community culture and entertainment, presenting vocal and instrumental music programs as well as recitations and displays of physical culture. With a larger student body and better facilities, Reidsville Seminary was able to add dramas and operettas. A Carpe Diem Society in 1904 later became two literary societies—the Athenian and the Didactic. Society debates led to a seminary debate team. Students edited a weekly newspaper.
The school abruptly closed following the 1913 commencement.
Bricks and Mortar
The Reidsville Seminary property was located on the south side of Lawsonville Avenue, in what is today the Reidsville Historic District. The property had a frontage of 290 feet. The school was a two-story frame structure which apparently also housed some of those students “from a distance.” The Review noted that the original building burned in 1884 but was replaced. Being too small for the increased enrollment after 1900, the building was enlarged in 1905. In 1909 The Review noted “a spacious auditorium, comfortable recitation rooms. . . . and a good library.” The 1908 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows electric lights and heat from stoves. By this time frame dormitories have apparently been added.
Within a week of the 1913 commencement, the property went on the block. For a time it was used by the Congregational Christian Church. In 1914 it became the home of North Carolina Business College. The Reidsville Historic District notes that it was later divided into apartments before being razed in 1941.
The seminary building before it was enlarged in 1905. Image from the Rockingham Community College, North Carolina Collection.
For much of its history Reidsville Seminary had fewer than 100 students--including primary students-- and admitted boys only as day students. Therefore, it is not surprising that the seminary has a very sketchy sports history. The first mention I found in newspaper coverage was 1905, when an athletic club was formed. In 1908 a group of seminary students joined those from the graded school to form a Reidsville baseball team.
The seminary football history extends from 1908 to 1913, during which time newspapers show only eight games—three against High Point High School, two against Greensboro High School, and two victories over the Danville All Stars. Their only college venture resulted in a 40-0 loss to Elon College—a present F.C.S. school. Newspapers also show a 7-4 victory over Monticello High School in baseball in 1910, an 8-8 draw with Guilford College in 1912, with a victory also that year over Reidsville Graded School.
The Rockingham Community College inventory of images notes a photo of a basketball team.