Want to see the oldest schoolhouse in Iredell County?
Then head on up to the still standing Ebenezer Academy off Highway 21 in Statesville. A definite must visit for history buffs.
Have In 1753, Scottish – Irish Presbyterians and German Lutherans, who originally settled in Pennsylvania, began arriving in Statesville. The settlement, known as Fourth Creek Congregation, was named for the fresh water stream, which was the fourth creek west of the neighboring settlement of Salisbury.
In 1778 Presbyterian minister, John Hall, founded Clio’s Nursery, a Presbyterian academy, in what was known as Fourth Creek, about 10 miles north of Statesville, where men could complete their classical learning. During the Revolutionary War, Hall’s duties were required on the war front as a Chaplain, so he left the teaching of students to others.
Clio’s Nursery is said to have closed, because of the British invasion of North Carolina, from May 1780 to April 1782, when it was reopened by John Newton. The school’s last teacher was Charles Caldwell, who left the academy in 1787 to establish Crowfield Academy and the school closed shortly after he left. Even though Clio’s Nursery was only open for about a decade, several prominent individuals attended the school. Listed alumni include George W. Campbell of Tennessee, who served as Secretary of the Treasury in the James Madison administration and Moses Waddell, who later became President of the University of Georgia.
After the closing of Clio’s Nursery in 1787, a void had been left in the educational opportunities offered to young men in the community. In 1822, Presbyterian leaders in Fourth Creek founded Ebenezer Academy, a preparatory school. The institution was modeled on Clio’s Nursery, and offered a liberal education focused on English, grammar, and geography. The school consisted of at least one main classroom building (which still stands today). An 1823 newspaper advertisement for the school stated “all branches of education required for admission into college, will here be taught.” And also noted “the Academy is in a rural situation, six miles from Statesville, so that students will be measurably free from temptations to vice.”
The school closed in 1856 as a result of the death of its principal, James Crawford, and a subsequent lack of funds. After the conclusion of the Civil War, the academy reopened as a subscription school (community school where students paid to attend). It remained in operation as such until the first decade of the twentieth century, when it was replaced by the construction of public schools in Iredell County.