Cabarrus Connections: Immanuel Lutheran College

19 Sep 2014

Photo Courtesy of the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Immannuel Lutheran College, founded in 1903 by the Missouri Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Carolina, was first established in Concord, NC. Starting with only five students, for nearly three years it occupied rooms in the parochial school building of Grace Lutheran Church. The first president was N. J. Bakke, who served as president from 1903 to 1910. The institution offered high school and two-year college curriculum to African American men who intended to enter the ministry or engage in missionary work. Shortly thereafter, women were also admitted to the college.

Immanuel Lutheran College, 1945, photo courtesy of
Greensboro, NC Historical Museum.

In the fall of 1905, Immanuel Lutheran College moved to Greensboro, where for two years it occupied temporary lodgings, and then moved to a thirteen acre property donated to the school on East Market Street. It had its first graduates in 1907. The creation of a school to train black ministers was a boon to the Lutheran Church in North Carolina since black leadership led to the creation of new congregations and revival of older ones. The permanent building (shown above) was described in the 1909 school catalog as, “The building (two stories with a roomy attic and basement), is built of Mt. Airy granite with cement trimmings. It is a massive, imposing structure, noble and pleasing in architecture and beautifully situated on an elevation overlooking the city to the southwest.” Additions in 1927 and extensive repairs and remodeling in 1932 drastically changed its unusual, German-style architecture.

The subsequent history of the school, until its demise in 1961, shows no other obvious ties to Cabarrus County. When the school closed, a result of changing attitudes about segregated education, North Carolina A & T State University bought the property; none of the buildings stand today.

Courtesy of Cabarrus County Library, Lore Local History Room; University of NC-Greensboro