Elizabeth College was founded in 1897 on land donated by a group of local investors dedicated to the suburban development of Charlotte. The private Lutheran women's college was run by the Reverend Charles B. King, the son-in-law of tobacco magnate Gerard S. Watts. Watts was an associate of the prestigious Duke family and their Durham tobacco empire, and the college was named after his wife, Anne Elizabeth Watts. The elevation on which the college was built soon became known as Elizabeth Hill, and the developing streetcar suburb growing up around it became the Elizabeth neighborhood. The school became renowned for the Gerard Conservatory of Music, visible on the right edge of this photograph from 1908 (above), beside the main classroom and dormitory building. Although it was a general liberal arts college, much of the coursework emphasized music.
This 1925 photo shows the residence of local entrepreneur William Henry Belk, located at 120 Hawthorne Lane. The house was designed by architect Charles C. Hook and was built that year, and today it is used by the hospital as an administrative building.
The college was closed in 1915 and moved to Salem, Virginia, where it absorbed the Roanoke Women's College. It operated there until 1922, when it closed for good. The original Elizabeth College building was purchased by Presbyterian Hospital in 1917, and it moved there from its uptown location on West Trade Street. During this period, the Elizabeth neighborhood became the home to several hospitals that migrated from Charlotte's central business district. The hospital continued to use the campus buildings until 1980, when they were demolished. Today the newer facade of Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center occupies the prominent hilltop on Elizabeth and Hawthorne avenues, where the college existed, and a rock outside the hospital holds a plaque that recognizes the land's former occupants.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass