The Methodist Orphanage, which later became the Methodist Home for Children, was saluted with the unveiling of a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker (www.ncmarkers.com) this past Saturday, Sept. 12, at 2 p.m. The marker dedication took place at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Washington Street in Raleigh, NC.
The Methodist Orphanage was established by the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church in 1899. The building was completed in 1900, and the first child, Cassie Bright, was admitted in January 1901. By the end of that year the orphanage had 28 children. Admission was granted to children by referral of Methodist pastors in the 56 counties of central and eastern North Carolina, the geographical boundary of the North Carolina Methodist Conference.
In 1909, Children’s Home, a Methodist orphanage serving residents of the western counties, was established in Winston-Salem. Methodist Orphanage evolved by 1930 into a comprehensive residential facility and school. At the height of the Depression, enrollment peaked at 340 residents. In the early years of the facility, children lived in dormitories housing 25 to 30 children individuals. The orphanage later shifted to a “house-parent” setup, with cottages housing up to 12 children under the care of a parental figure.
In 1955 Methodist Orphanage changed its name to the Methodist Home for Children and restructured its facilities to meet the needs of children and families in America’s increasingly mobile society. Departing from strictly residential programs, Methodist Home for Children developed outreach programs and services. In 1979 the Home sold its central campus and established a series of youth homes and family-centered outreach programs across the state.
Today 21 acres of the original campus, now called Fred Fletcher Park, are maintained by Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department, including two of the original buildings. The Methodist Home for Children is recognized as one of the state’s most distinguished child and family service agencies, working with more than 1,400 children and their families a year. Today the Methodist Home maintains an office on original campus property north of Fred Fletcher Park.
For additional information on the N.C. Highway Historical Marker program, call Mike Hill at 919.807.7290. The Highway Marker program, within the Office of Archives and History, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history and culture. It is now podcasting 24/7 with information about the Department of Cultural Resources, all available at www.ncculture.com.
(Photo courtesy of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)