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The mission of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission is to identify, preserve, protect, and promote Raleigh’s historic resources.

St. Augustine's College Campus

Founded 1867

Saint Augustine's College is a monument to the education of African Americans after the Civil War

Immediately following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, Saint Augustine's opened as a normal school to train African American teachers. The school evolved into a college providing higher education for African Americans. The historic campus has both a Gothic and Romanesque tone, with stone buildings as well as brick buildings with classical elements.

The early campus clustered on Oakwood Avenue and grew to 110 acres by 1897. Much land remained undeveloped for academic use and was devoted to agriculture instead. The growth of the student body in the early twentieth century led to a building boom, including the 1909 Saint Agnes hospital, the 1924 C. R. Hunter Building, and the 1925 Tuttle Building, which housed a training school for church and social work. The college established a model farm in the 1920s, which included a house, cultivated fields, and livestock.

In the mid-1920s, the trustees elected to pursue a full college course. Another building boom followed in the 1930s and Saint Augustine's had a well-developed campus by 1937. The campus has since doubled in size. As newer buildings replace the oldest structures, the architectural variety that has always characterized the campus remains.


The Freedman's Commission of the Episcopal Church founded Saint Augustine's in 1867, part of the church's missionary work in the Reconstruction era. The school helped establish Raleigh as a center of educational opportunity for African Americans. The early instructional program focused on technical and trade education, including teaching and nursing, as well as ministerial training for the Episcopal priesthood.

While the church's support of the school provided much-needed opportunities for African Americans, the training of teachers, nurses, and priests also furthered the segregation practices that characterize the first half of the twentieth century. Administrators at the school were predominantly white from the early years of the school through the middle of the twentieth century.

The establishment of training for nurses coincided with the opening of Saint Agnes Hospital in 1896. Saint Agnes provided hospital care for African Americans and a training opportunity for Saint Augustine's nursing students. Like the administrative staff of the college, much of the medical staff at the hospital was white and male. Notable exceptions included the hospital's first attending physician, Dr. L. A. Scruggs, and several female doctors who worked on staff "often in charge of the nurses" in the first half of the twentieth century.

In the 1920s, the institution's focus shifted to the provision of a liberal arts higher education. The class entering in the fall of 1927 was the first to have a four-year college curriculum available to it. Four years later, Saint Augustine's produced its first twelve graduates. By the middle of the twentieth century, the model farm had been eliminated as had all sub-college-level offerings.

Throughout its history, the school also had a strong effect on residential patterns in southeast Raleigh, as African Americans relocating to the city elected to live near the college in the adjacent neighborhoods of Idewild and College Park.


St. Augustine's in the 21st Century

Photo by Michael Zirkle PhotographyPhoto by Michael Zirkle Photography