Bash Set for NCCU’s 100th Birthday

North Carolina Central University officials are inviting the public to a 100th birthday bash on campus on July 8.

The celebration will include dedications of a newly installed Centennial Garden on Fayetteville Street, the Centennial Chapel, (the relocated and repurposed Holy Cross Church) and a historic plaque commemorating the former site of Hillside High School. It is the final celebration of NCCU’s centennial.

The birthday celebration will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on and about the Brant Street plaza. After the dedications, the party will start with birthday cake and music.

Free parking will be available at NCCU lots on Lawson Street and Nelson Street and with shuttle service from St. Titus and St. Joseph’s church lots.

The celebration originally was planned for July 10, but was rescheduled to better conform to the itinerary for the North Carolina Central University Alumni Association’s National Convention and Centennial Celebration, which is being held in Durham from July 8 through July 10. Alumni can register for the convention and view the updated schedule of events at

The Centennial Garden, currently under construction, will be a swirling pattern of walkways and perennial plantings, with a mix of shrubs and hardwood and flowering trees. It will feature a fountain, and is situated on Fayetteville Street between the Shepard House and the former Holy Cross Church.

In April, the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church was moved from Alston Avenue on the eastern edge of campus to the Fayetteville Street site. A new NCCU nursing school facility is being built on the Alston Avenue land. The stone chapel building, once home to a mainly African-American Catholic congregation since 1953, is now owned by NCCU and will be used mainly for meetings. The Diocese of Eastern North Carolina built a new facility for the congregation in 2006.

For nearly half a century, Hillside High School was Durham’s secondary school for African-Americans, at a time when segregation ruled the South. Hillside was integrated in the 1960s. The building, on Concord Street, was closed in 1995 when the Durham Public Schools built a new structure further south on Fayetteville Street. The school system donated the building to NCCU, which demolished it and used the acreage for its Mary M. Townes Science Building and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise.

At first named the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race, NCCU opened its doors to students on July 5, 1910, when Durham was a small tobacco town, and opportunities for higher education for African-Americans were slight. In less than two decades, the institution had become the first African-American liberal arts college in the nation to receive taxpayer support.

The founder was Dr. James E. Shepard, a pharmacist trained at Shaw University in nearby Raleigh. Shepard became a national leader in education, especially for African-Americans, as well as a business and religious leader.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the NCCU Office of Public Relations at (919) 530-6295.