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Collections | Digital Collections | Peabody College History

Peabody Designated National Historic Landmark

George Peabody College for Teachers was officially designated a Registered National Historic Landmark as a part of its annual Founder's Day ceremonies Monday, Peabody PlaqueFeb. 20.

George W. Fry, representative of the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said he believes Peabody is the first college in the state and one of the "very few" in the nation to hold this distinction. Fry, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, represented Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall and National Park Service Director George Hartzog in presenting the bronze plaque and framed certificate indicating Peabody "possesses exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States."

Horace G. Hill, Jr., Peabody trustee, officially received the plaque and certificate. Hill's late father, H. G. Hill, also was a Peabody trustee and their combined service to Peabody totals almost half a century.

Historic Sites Act

Fry, in explaining the Historic Sites Act of 1955, said it established a "national policy to preserve for public use historic sites, buildings and objects of national significance for the inspiration and benefit of the people of the United States." He quoted from Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 28, "Remove not the ancient landmarks, which thy fathers have set."

Peabody observes Founder's Day on or near the Feb. 18 birthday of George Peabody, New England philanthropist who gave $2,000,000 to help the South after the War Between the States. It also is the birthday of two Peabody College giants, Dr. Bruce Ryburn Payne, president from 1911 until his death in 1937, and Dr. Charles McMurry, national pioneer in elementary education.

Dr. Clifton Hall, professor of education, delivered the Founder's Day address, paying tribute to some of the distinguished men who have helped to build Peabody. He said the most striking and important quality they had in common was that they did not fear to be themselves.

Dr. Hall declared "a college can be equipped with millions of dollars worth of apparatus and it can be administered with the greatest skill and efficiency, and it will fall if it is not staffed by capable teachers."

Dr. Hall said men like Dr. Payne had a sense of direction and criteria which they kept clearly before their students. He urged students attending the convocation to look for such criteria. "As to where we should look for such criteria, I would suggest that the answer is a simple one: Look around you, and, occasionally, look behind you."

Peabody traces its history to 1785 and the founding of Davidson Academy, first school in Davidson County, chartered by the State of North Carolina within a few years after the first settlers arrived here. The college has graduates in every state and many foreign countries, including more than 40 college presidents.

Acting President Henry H. Hill of Peabody presided at the ceremonies, and Vice Chairman Thomas P. Kennedy, Jr., of the Board of Trustees introduced Trustee Hill.