Existing Structures on the PMI Campus, Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

Carrie M. Stone Teachers' Cottage

The Carrie M. Stone Teachers' Cottage was made possible primarily through the efforts of Charlotte Hawkins Brown's longtime friend, J. S. Bright. Bright had been associated with Palmer Memorial Institute longer than any other person except Brown. Stone Cottage was named in honor of the wife of Palmer's largest benefactor, Galen L. Stone of Boston. The structure was constructed in 1948, and is similar in style to the Massachusetts Congregational Women's Cottage located on the east end of the campus. The cottage was built in order to provide campus housing for the school's unmarried female teachers.

Charles W. Eliot Hall

Eliot Hall - 1940s

Charles W. Eliot Hall, Named for the 22nd president of Harvard University.

Eliot Hall, named in honor of noted educator Charles W. Eliot (1834-1926), served as the school's dormitory for boys. The structure was built in 1934 and is similar in style to Galen Stone Hall for girls, which is located on the east end of the Palmer campus. Because of a shortage of funds Eliot Hall was only two-thirds completed. Although plans were developed to finish the dorm, they were never realized.

Eliot, president of Harvard University from 1869 to 1909, was perhaps the most influential American educator of his day. His family was identified prominently with the rise of New England education and Harvard. Born in Boston, he studied at the Boston Latin School and entered Harvard at the age of fifteen, graduating second in his class. His presidency marked a new era at Harvard. During his 40-year tenure, the university added graduate schools of arts and sciences, applied science, and business administration, as well as Radcliffe College for women. Eliot supported universal education and social mobility regardless of race.

Although never a large financial contributor to Palmer, his endorsement of Brown's school secured hundreds of friends and thousands of dollars.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown Gravesite and Prayer/Meditation Altar

CHB Gravesite

The gravesite of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. The prayer altar is nearby.

One of the most important features of the Palmer campus is the gravesite of the school's founder. Before the death of Dr. Brown in 1961, the Palmer founder had requested that she be buried on the grounds of the campus she loved. The family of Brown, alumni of Palmer, and Wilhelmina Crosson (second president of PMI) were influential in carrying out Dr. Brown's funeral wishes.

The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was responsible for placing the upright marker on the gravesite. E. E. Smith (former student and friend of Brown) was in charge of all funeral arrangements and also was responsible for having the inscription placed upon her grave. The inscription itself was written by Richard Wharton, chairman of the PMI board of directors until 1971.

Located near Dr. Brown's grave is the prayer altar. Built by Palmer groundskeeper, James Rudd Sr., the meditation or prayer altar was constructed from stones that students brought to PMI from all over the country and the Caribbean area. Each morning Brown meditated before beginning her long day at the school. The meditation altar also was used as a time-out area for students who did not follow Brown's strict rules. It also was a favorite place for students and faculty to enjoy the scenic beauty of the campus while relaxing and studying.

Kimball Hall

Kimball Hall

Kimball Hall. The Dining Hall opened in 1927.

Kimball Hall served as the school's dining hall and was opened for use in 1927. The structure was dedicated in honor of the Kimball family. Helen F. Kimball was among PMI's earliest supporters as well as a close personal friend of Brown's. In 1905 Helen Kimball purchased a 200-acre farm for use by Palmer Institute.

It was in Kimball Hall that Palmer students learned and practiced their social dining graces. Separated by custom, boys entered the hall from the right entrance and girls from the left. Any departure from acceptable table manners resulted in immediate disciplinary action and possible removal from the dining hall. The separation of boys and girls continued at Palmer well into the late 1960s.

The basement of Kimball housed the institute's industrial and mechanical arts classes.


Becky Peterson

In January 2003, Dr. Iris Chapman's creative writing class from Elon University, near Burlington, NC, visited the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. Their assignment was "to write from the landmark," producing a creative, non-fiction essay with the site as a focus point. The students also read Diane Silcox-Jarrett's book, Charlotte Hawkins Brown: One Woman's Dream, for inspiration. Becky Peterson wrote her essay, "The Dining Experience," about student meals in Kimball Hall.


Galen L. Stone Hall

Galen Stone Hall

Galen Stone Hall, Girls' Dorm

Built in 1927 and dedicated in honor of Palmer Institute's largest contributor, Stone Hall served as the school's dormitory for girls. In 1950 Stone Hall suffered a disastrous fire. By the following fall, however, it had been completely renovated for continued use.

Massachusetts Congregational Women's Cottage

Built in 1948, the Massachusetts Congregational Cottage, or girls' home economics practice house, was made possible primarily through the efforts of Brown's longtime friend, J. S. Bright. Bright had been associated with Palmer (1903-1953) longer than any other living person except Brown. The cottage was named in honor of the Massachusetts Women's Congregational Society, who gave an additional $10,500 for the new girls' practice home.

Massachusetts Congregational Women's Cottage

Massachusetts Congregational Women's Cottage. The girls' home economics practice house.

The Tea House

Tea House

Tea House Canteen and Bookstore

The Tea House (ca. 1929) functioned as the campus canteen and bookstore, but it also served as a "hands-on" learning center for business management, illustrating a typical PMI method of teaching. Each year students took over the operation of the Tea House in the hope of making it a profit-yielding business. Here they practiced theories of buying and selling, planning, budgeting, cooperation, and service.

The student-run Tea Room was a favorite hangout. Students went there at specified times, and girls were not allowed to go after supper. That restriction offered boys a chance to buy treats and take them to their sweethearts. Another favorite diversion was card games such as whist. Brown had not always allowed card play but eventually permitted games that did not involve gambling.

Images © North Carolina Office of Archives & History


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