Biddleville Memorial Hall

Written By Sloane Hobart , Staff Reporter


Have you ever been driving through Charlotte and seen a beautiful building and wondered why it’s there? Well today you will get to know about one of them – Biddleville Memorial Hall. According to the Johnson C. Smith University website, in 1867, the Rev. S.C. Alexander and the Rev. W. L. Miller decided that a new institute was needed in the South. They went to different meetings at different churches to try to get the idea to stick, and then one day it finally did. Mary D. Biddle pledged $1,400 to the school, which equates to about $40,000 today. Since Mrs. Biddle donated so much money towards their cause, they decided to name the school after her late husband, Major Henry Biddle, who was a war veteran during the Civil War. The school was called Biddle Memorial Institute in honor of Major Biddle from 1867 to 1876. In 1876, Colonel W. R. Myers donated eight acres of land and as a result, the name was changed to Biddle University. As the school grew, they had to make more room, so they added a main administrative building and a 600 seat audience chamber known as Biddle Memorial Hall. Approximately 40 years later, Jane Berry Smith gave money to the school to build a theological dormitory, science hall, teachers’ cottage, and memorial gate. As a result of her donation, the name was changed to Johnson C. Smith University (also known as JCSU) in honor of her husband. The college was recognized as a four year college in 1924 by the North Carolina State Board of Education and it was also approved by James B. Duke, who was an important public figure in the Charlotte community. In 1941, women were finally invited to the freshman class. In 1967, Johnson C. Smith University celebrated its 100th anniversary. Some may wonder why it is so important to maintain historical buildings. They might think it is a waste of space and money, but it actually helps show where we came from.