This is the female dormitory of the Mt. Vernon Springs Academy, built in 1855. It is the oldest structure in the Mt. Vernon Springs Historic District.
The Academy was founded in 1855 by the Sandy Creek Baptist Association and opened for classes in 1856. By the early 1860s, the academy had about 100 students--two-thirds male and one-third female. The state's Baptist newspaper, The Biblical Recorder, reported in 1858 that Mt. Vernon Springs was "one of the most favorable locations for a flourishing school in all the State."
The minutes of the Sandy Creek Association indicate that the original plan was to construct a male academy in Pittsboro, but for some reason this plan was abandoned and Mt. Vernon Springs was chosen as the location for a school for males and females.
For most of the Civil War, the academy was closed, but it reopened in 1865. It maintained close ties with other Baptist institutions, including Wake Forest University, until it closed permanently in the early 1900s.
The trustees originally purchased the spring and its property from Abner Marsh and subsequently formed a fifteen-thousand-dollar stock company and bought several hundred acres of adjacent land. Dr. George W. Paschal described further, "At the top of a beautiful slope, 200 yards north of the Spring, they built the male academy, a stately structure, large enough to accommodate 100 students. On another slope 300 yards to the east of the Spring and separated from the male academy not only by distance but also by a stream and a thickly wooded ravine which obscured all vision, they erected the building of the Female Academy, and equipped the rooms with pianos, and palettes and paints and brushes..."
Both the male and female dormitories were built in 1855--the only two structures known to have been constructed. The male dormitory burned in the 1970s. According to the Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC, "the vernacular Greek Revival style of the dormitories strongly influenced Mt. Vernon Spring's domestic architecture into the 1880s."
Photo from the National Register of Historic Places form for the Mt. Vernon Springs Historic District. Additional information from The Architectural Heritage of Chatham County, NC and Chatham County, 1771-1971.
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