As it was shared during Franklinton Center Day 2013 in the Program Book, “It’s Our Time!”
Franklinton Center at Bricks is located on the site of what was formerly a plantation. The Center traces its beginnings tot he founding of the Franklinton Christian College in 1871 and the Congregationalist Bricks School in 1895. Both schools closed; and in 1946 the Franklinton Center formed to provide opportunities for Christian Education, fellowship and recreation. It moved from Franklinton, NC to Bricks in 1954 and was named the Franklinton Center at Bricks in 1994. The Franklinton Center is a ministry of the United Church of Christ and managed/staffed by the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries.
Franklinton Christian College
To address the educational needs of the newly freed slaves, in 1871, The Black Christian Church of Franklinton, NC, pulling together their nickels and dimes, started what was to become Franklinton Center. In 1880, the school was formally founded as the Franklinton Literary and Theological Christian Institute. In time, the school came to be known as the Franklinton Christian College and was considered by many to have been the Christian Denomination’s most significant achievement benefit to its African-American Constituency. “The School instilled in its students deep religious convictions and motivation, that gave an intellectual and spiritual visibility to those who became preachers, teachers and doctors and to those who gave excellent guidance in their church and community.” (Stanley, p71). The school closed in 1931.
Joseph Keasbey Brick Agriculture and Normal School
Mrs. Julia Elma Brick, a wealthy white widow from Brooklyn, New York, heard of the plight of poor black children in the South who were unable to attend school. Mrs. Brick had acquired over 1000 acres of land in the south as a result of a defaulted loan. Mrs. Brick donated the land and money for construction of the buildings to the American Missionary Association (AMA). The AMA appointed Thomas Sewell Inborden, as founding principal, of what was called the Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial and Normal School. Under Inborden’s leadership, the school grew from what was known as a common or primary school to a junior college. The Brick School was the first accredited black school in North Carolina. unique from other African American Colleges established in the South, that catered to students from prominent and affluent backgrounds; the Brick school provided educational opportunities to students from poor family backgrounds. To the devastation of many in the community, the school closed in 1933.
“During the boyhood of one still living, students at Bricks were told how the farm was once a place where ‘unruly slaves were sent to be subdued and broken in’. A spot was pointed out to us where the whipping post stood just in front of what is now the Guest House. It was impressed upon us that this was still a place where people were sent to be broken, not as slave for a slave state, but as free men and women for a place of service in a free and democratic society.” -Ross W. Sanders, President Board of Trustees, Franklinton Center at Bricks (1955)
The site of this sacred land was once a plantation that had been pieced together in the early nineteenth century by a wealthy planter named Mason L. Wiggins. Wiggins sold the property to Francis Garrett, who owned the property in 1863, held seventy-five (75) slaves at the close of the antebellum period.
J. Taylor Stanley, 1978. A History of Black Congregationalist Christian Churches of the South (p71). United Church Press of the American Missionary Association: New York