Name That Place

One of Charlotte's early colleges had a tough time finding its identity

There really was a collegeon Charlotte's College Street. The school was Charlotte Female Institute and it filled the entire block of North College Street between Ninth and Tenth streets. You may recognize the institution better by its present-day name, Queens University of Charlotte.

Charlotte Female Institute was founded in 1857, but there was confusion about the school's name not long after its inception. An early president, Dr. William Atkinson, disliked using the word "female" and had his stationery printed with the name "Institute for Young Women." His successor chose to call the school "Charlotte Seminary for Girls," although the official name remained Charlotte Female Institute.

There was another name change in 1895 when the Presbyterian churches in Mecklenburg and Concord joined to establish a new school that merged with the existing Charlotte Female Institute. The new name was Presbyterian Female College, later changed in 1910 to Presbyterian College for Women. According to Charlotte historians Mary Kratt and Mary Manning Boyer in their book, Remembering Charlotte, the "three-story school had a large entry rotunda, formal parlor, dormitories, dining room for 250, and an auditorium seating 1,000."

The school was moved to Selwyn Avenue in the new suburb of Myers Park in 1912 and renamed Queens College. Myers Park residents helped secure the school by raising $8,000, and the sale of 100 of the school's original 135 acres provided funds for the five original buildings -- Burwell Hall, Atkinson Hall, Ninniss Hall, Lily Long Dormitory, and Mildred Watkins Dormitory.

After World War II, Queens admitted its first male students (as nonresidential enrollees). Queens College became Queens University of Charlotte in 2002 to reflect the nature of the growing institution. The old Presbyterian College on College Street was converted to apartments after the school moved out, and the auditorium was used for many years by the Little Theatre of Charlotte. The imposing structure was razed in 1947.