Wake Forest Institute Opens

The Wake Forest College baseball team, circa 1910s.
Image from the State Archives

On February 3, 1834, Wake Forest Institute opened with an initial enrollment of 16 students. The school’s first building, a simple provincial house, was the home of Dr. Calvin Jones, a founder of the Medical Society of North Carolina , officer in the War of 1812 and long-time trustee of the University of North Carolina.

Jones sold his plantation at Wake Forest to the Baptist State Convention, which established the school. By the end of 1834, 72 students were in attendance. The dwelling house was used as the residence of the first president of the college, Samuel Wait, and for classrooms. The carriage house was used as a chapel. Seven former slave cabins—well-made but without windows—were used as dormitories.

In 1946, the trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation offered Wake Forest generous funding to move to Winston-Salem. The State Baptist Convention accepted the offer, and construction began in that city in 1951. The original Wake Forest College campus was sold to the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1956.

The original house, restored it to its 1830s appearance, is now operated as part of the Wake Forest College Birthplace Museum.

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