HENDERSON — Kittrell College provided an education for African American students for more than a century after the Civil War. In the mid 1970s, it closed.
But Kittrell College is on a path to find new life.
The effort is spearheaded by Stephanie Freeman, director of arts and humanities at N.C. Central University and dean of the School of Religion at Barber-Scotia College, with support from the Kittrell College National Alumni Association and private donors.
Freeman laid the foundation for reviving the college. She established Kittrell College as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, and she applied for accreditation with the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
She has made an offer on a property in Tarboro for the site of the new campus.
Why Tarboro? “I found a property in Tarboro that really fit what I need for the school, and it was affordable,” Freeman said.
She placed an offer on that property, but she and the alumni association also hope to reclaim property once owned by the college in Kittrell.
“The plan is to have a presence again in Kittrell, a satellite campus,” she said.
Freeman has an affinity for historically Black colleges and universities.
Both institutions she now serves are HBCUs, as is Shaw University, where she previously taught. So a defunct HBCU, such as Kittrell College, caught her attention.
“I never heard anything about it,” she said. “I should know something about it.”
Not only did she learn about Kittrell College, she decided to do something about it. Like, bring it back to life.
Kittrell College was established in 1886 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church to train teachers and to provide vocational training for individuals to become skilled in the trades.
The college had the unusual distinction of buying three buildings from Duke University in 1926 as that institution made the transition from Trinity College. The buildings were disassembled and brought to the campus in Kittrell, where they were resurrected. Unfortunately, they were destroyed by fire in 1972, offering a premonition of the college’s fate.
A host of difficulties, not least of which were financial, caused Kittrell College to close its doors in 1975. The campus was later sold and became the site of the Kittrell Job Corps Center.
Freeman holds a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University, a master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and two master’s degrees and a doctor of ministry degree from Duke University.
She has authored two books and numerous articles in magazines, newspapers and other media outlets.