Discussions about establishing a church-sponsored school in
Union County began as early as 1876 at the yearly meeting of
the Brown Creek Union Baptist Association. The American Civil
War had led to the closure of the free common schools in the
area and virtually no public school had re-opened. In 1895, the
Association passed a resolution authorizing the establishment
of a school for the higher education of young men and women of
the county and in the Association. The land for the school was
selected for its close proximity to water, to the railroad, and
to Meadow Branch Baptist Church, which figured prominently into
the schools establishment. G. M. Stewart donated ten acres
of land for the site. The school opened in August of 1896
and was named The Wingate School in memory of Dr. Washington
Manley Wingate, the former president of Wake Forest College.
Marcus Baxter Dry became the schools first principal. The
North Carolina General Assembly formally chartered the school
in 1897 [see directly below].
By 1919, the Wingate School was facing competition from six
free public schools in the area, so the school discontinued its
first six grades and focused on being a competitive denominational
high school. In 1923, the Wingate School became Wingate Junior
College, Incorporated. At that point the State Baptist Convention
took over responsibility of the school from the Union Association.
Amidst the financial struggles of the Great Depression, on April
23, 1932, the Administration Building that housed all the classrooms,
library, auditorium, society hall, and administrative offices,
burned. Despite serious financial straits, the college remained
opened and the building was replaced.
In 1977, Wingate Junior College became Wingate College, a
four year liberal arts institution and, in 1995, it became Wingate
University. Wingate has grown from a 10-acre campus to a 390acre
campus with thirty (30) buildings. Its sixteen hundred (1,600)
students are offered a curriculum including thirty five (35)
different majors. The university continues to be affiliated with
the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.
The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North
Carolina Highway Marker program. Click
Here to read and to view their sources.