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Home North Carolina Catawba County City of Hickory Historical Markers Lenoir Rhyne

Lenoir Rhyne

Eighth Street at Eighth Avenue, Hickory, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 44' 21.8112", -81° 19' 25.0248"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Coeducational, Lutheran college, named for W. W. Lenoir and D. E. Rhyne. Opened as Lenoir College in academic year, 1891-92."
     In 1803 Lutherans living in Catawba County initiated efforts to establish a school. Years later, in June 1877, John M. Smith, Conover’s Lutheran pastor, began teaching classes in a private home. Smith’s school became Concordia College and by 1890 the school enrolled 130 students. Its president, Robert A. Yoder, left in 1891 to become president of a school in Hickory. The school opened that year as Highland College with eight faculty members and sixty-three students (male and female) enrolled. By the end of the year, the enrollment number had reached 149. In January 1892 Highland’s name was changed to Lenoir College in memory of Walter W. Lenoir, the donor of the property on which the school was built.

     Although the Lutherans in Catawba County lived in North Carolina, they were members of the Evangelical Lutheran Tennessee Synod. Lenoir College became affiliated with the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1895. In 1920, the two Lutheran synods in North Carolina that had been separated for one hundred years reunited. The United Evangelical Lutheran Synod of North Carolina assumed sponsorship of Lenoir College.

     During the fall of 1922, construction of a new gymnasium was delayed because of lack of funding. The college was in need not only of a new gymnasium, but also a dormitory, library, and a home for the president. At that point Daniel Rhyne offered a minimum gift of $200,000 dollars if the college could raise a similar amount and change the name of the college to Daniel Rhyne College. Rhyne’s proposal led the college to begin a campaign to raise $850,000. The name of the school 1924 was changed to Lenoir-Rhyne College.

     Lenoir-Rhyne underwent significant expansions from 1955 to 1960 and again in the 1970s. Today, Lenoir-Rhyne enrolls approximately 1,500 students. It continues to be affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Jeff Norris and Ellis G. Boatmon, Fair Star: A Centennial History of Lenoir-Rhyne College (1990)
Lenoir-Rhyne Website: http://www.lrc.edu
William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1964)
Lenoir Rhyne Historical Marker Location Map, Hickory, North Carolina