AUTHOR: JC Knowles (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
On July 23, 1873, a local newspaper announced the opening of a “Normal College for the education of colored teachers” in Greensboro, North Carolina. The school was founded through the motivation of newly freed African Americans and financially supported by the Freedman’s Aid and the Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first seventy students met in the unplastered basement of the Warnersville Church. [After the Civil War, a Pennsylvania Quaker named Yardley Warner purchased 35½ acres of land south of Greensboro, North Carolina, and divided it into plots to be sold to African Americans. That was the area that was known as Warnersville.]
During the institution’s early years, Lyman Bennett, a wealthy philanthropist from New York, gave the school $10,000, which was used to purchase land and erect a building to house classrooms and serve as a dormitory. Shortly after making that generous donation, Bennett died, and the institution was called Bennett Seminary in his honor.
The seminary achieved college status in 1889. Later (abt. 1926), its name was changed to Bennett College. Now a college for women, Bennett originated as a coeducational academy of higher education for African American men and women.