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#ThrowbackThursday — The founding of Pfeiffer

By Lewis Bramlett, Stanly County Historical Society

Emily Prudden was originally from Connecticut. She moved to North Carolina about 1884 and began establishing schools in Western North Carolina. One of those schools, known as the Oberlin School, was established near Lick Mountain in Lenoir. The exact date is unclear but was likely about 1898.

Emily Prudden

After establishing her schools, Prudden would typically spend a couple of years making sure it was all in good order, then would find an institution to take over support.

In the case of the Oberlin School, it was purchased by the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1903 with a donated of $1,000 from Mary P. Mitchell. The school was renamed the Ebenezer Mitchell School in honor of her son.

A fire destroyed the school in 1908 and after using a temporary location in Lenoir, it was decided in 1910 to move to Misenheimer Springs in Stanly County. The school began to offer high school instruction and later in 1928 began offering Junior College classes.

In 1935 the school was renamed Pfeiffer Junior College in honor of Henry and Annie Merner Pfeiffer of New York City. Through their support the school was able to build several brick buildings and a president’s home.
Senior College courses were added in the 1950s and the school became Pfeiffer College in 1955. In 1996 the school was reorganized in order to become a university and the name was changed to Pfeiffer University.

Jonathan Hutchinson and the Mary Fisher Floyd Archives at Pfeiffer University contributed to this article.