Historic Markers Across Alabama

Lincoln Normal School

Marker ID: AHC 
Location: on Lincoln St. at Lee St., Marion, AL
County: Perry
Coordinates: N 32° 37.549    W 087° 19.736
  32.62581666    -87.32893333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMJEYB


Side 1:
On July 17, 1867, nine ex-slaves (James Childs, Alexander H. Curtis, Nicholas Dale, John Freeman, David Harris, Thomas Lee, Nathan Levert, Ivey Pharish and Thomas Speed) formed and incorporated the "Lincoln School of Marion." They soon found it difficult to recruit and pay teachers. On September 10, 1868, the trustees entered into an agreement with the American Missionary Association (AMA), an auxiliary of the Congregational Churches. The Reverend A. W. Steward, the first principal, also organized the First Congregational Church in the school in 1869.

The school grew so rapidly the AMA could not finance it. In 1874 the State of Alabama was asked to take over the secondary department. It was formed into a normal school to train black teachers. A new building and more teachers were added; students came from all over the state; and William Burns Patterson became principal.

An incendiary fire in 1887 destroyed the state school; it was moved to Montgomery where it became State Normal School, now Alabama State University. The people of Marion prevailed again upon the AMA to provide a school and the Patterson home was turned into classrooms. In 1897 the AMA decided to abandon the school because of the lack of funds needed to make it efficient, but the people rallied to support the new principal, Mary Elizabeth Phillips. Supporters raised funds and agreed to furnish the teachers food and fuel so the AMA agreed to keep Lincoln open.

Side 2:
Under Miss Phillips' guidance Lincoln developed rapidly as was evidenced by the construction of new buildings. In 1902 Livingston Hall, the first brick academic building, was completed. Hope Cottage, a girls' dorm, was built by the boys in 1904 and this same year the shop was remodeled for a boys' dorm. The Patterson home was remodeled into a girls' dorm and dining hall in 1905 and renamed Phillips Hall. Douglas Hall, a boys' dorm, was built by the boys in 1908 and Van Wagenen Hall was built in 1909 for the elementary department. In 1919 a kindergarten and primary annex was added to Van Wagenen Hall and electricity was installed in all buildings. Woolworth Hall, which housed the science and home economics departments and some teachers' quarters, was completed in 1922. Ranny Hall, a dorm for high school girls, was erected in 1926. On May 30, 1939 Phillips Memorial Auditorium was dedicated to the memory of Mary Elizabeth Phillips Thompson who died in 1927.

The 1920s were hard years for Lincoln. Dormitories were closed; the elementary department was discontinued, but a health program was started; cooperatives were organized in the county and the older buildings were remodeled.

In 1943 the first black principal, Rev. E. A. Smith, was hired and all of the white teachers had to leave when the state agreed to operate the school. The state finally purchased the eight-acre campus and forty-acre farm from the AMA in 1960. During the integration process Lincoln School was formally closed in May 1970, after 103 years of service.

Erected 1992 by the Marion Lincolnite Chapter Mrs. Idella J. Childs, President

End of Lincoln Normal School