Liberty Hall College Memorial, Charlotte
Queen City Marble and Granite Works, Supplier
The memorial marking the location of Liberty Hall College is in the form of a square pedestal capped with a low pyramid shaped top made of Winnsboro blue granite. The pedestal rests on a double base with the upper base of the same granite and the lower base of marble. The pedestal has inscriptions on each side with the most prominent listing the original trustees of the college. When created and dedicated this pedestal was actually the base for a bronze sundial described as “elegant” and with an inscription reading “OTHERS COUNT THE STORMS AND SHOWERS, I ONLY COUNT YOUR SUNNY HOURS.”
It is not known what happened to the sundial but within weeks of the dedication it had been dislodged and vandalized. This led to a hole being drilled in the pedestal’s top to better secure the sundial. The current top does not have a hole but is of the same Winnsboro granite and the patina is consistent with the rest of the pedestal. The assumption is that vandalism continued to be a problem and the sundial was removed or possible stolen. The memorial was relocated in 1928 when a new courthouse opened and the old one demolished. This may have been when a new top was placed. The lower marble base is not heavily weathered and is a more recent addition. It is felt that the pedestal is original to the 1913 sundial. Winnsboro granite was not quarried after 1946 although supplies were available into the 1960’s. This may explain why the lower base is a different material, being added during modern work on Wells Fargo Plaza. Adding to the confusion is that an early news story described the pedestal as marble. This incorrect description was then reprinted verbatim in later stories that also correctly described it as granite. An undated postcard of the old courthouse shows what appears to be this memorial sans the sundial.
Images: D.A.R. inscription | List of trustees | In honor of trustees
Side 1: SITE OF / LIBERTY HALL / 1777.
Side 2: ERECTED BY / LIBERTY HALL CHAPTER / DAUGHTERS OF THE / AMERICAN REVOLUTION / 1913.
Side 3: TRUSTEES / ISAAC ALEXANDER / THOMAS POLK / THOMAS NEAL / ABRAHAM ALEXANDER / WAIGHTSTILL AVERY / EPHRIAM BREVARD / JOHN SIMPSON / ADLIA OSBORNE / JOHN MCNITT ALEXANDER / DAVID CALDWELL / JAMES EDMONDS / THOMAS REESE / SAMUEL E. MCCORKLE / THOMAS MCCAULE / JAMES HALL
Side 4: IN MEMORY OF / THE TRUSTEES OF / LIBERTY HALL
City of Charlotte
November 4, 1913
35.225100 , -80.845810 View in Geobrowse
"County Court House, Independence Monument and Law Building, Charlotte, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
Beaty, Artie. "Liberty Walk," About Charlotte (accessed June 20, 2014) Link
Leland, Elizabeth, “Princeton of the South,” Our State Magazine July 1, 2010 Link
Lillard, Stewart. “Liberty Hall,” NCPedia.org, (accessed January 23, 2017) Link
“Charlotte Liberty Walk,” Mecklenburg Historical Association, (accessed February 22, 2017) Link
“County Receives Unique Sun-dial,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), November 5, 1913
“South Carolina State Stone – Blue Granite,” Sciway, (accessed May 9, 2017) Link
“Sun Dial Unveiled To Trustees Liberty Hall,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), November 5, 1913
“Sundial Plate Being Securely Fastened In Place This Time,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), November 24, 1913
“Will Erect Sundial Front Court House,” The Evening Chronicle (Charlotte, NC), June 2, 1913
Liberty Hall Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution
The dedication took place on a “fair and balmy” afternoon. A large US flag held by white and blue ribbons draped the memorial as six young daughters of Liberty Hall trustee descendants pulled the ribbons at the appropriate time. Dr. John L. Caldwell, President of Queen’s College gave the formal address. Mrs. C.C. Hook, chair of the sundial committee spoke about the erection of the memorial and thanked Mr. Joseph Firth who “had gotten up at 3 o’clock in the morning to secure the correct reading on the North Star,” to have the proper time show on the sundial.
Liberty Hall was an eighteenth-century academy of higher learning in Mecklenburg County. Prior to the American Revolution, Princeton educated Presbyterian missionaries founded seven churches in the area of Charlotte. Each church had a seminary of learning, a high school, but beyond that students were forced to travel out of state for further education. Wanting a local institution local leaders founded Queen’s College in 1760 and supported it by charging a six pence tax on “rum or other spirituous liquors” brought into the county. Not being under the control of the Church of England, the British Crown soon revoked the original charter and refused attempts to gain a new one. After the colonies declared independence in 1776 the North Carolina legislature stripped the college of its royal title and renamed it Liberty Hall. The legislature then granted the school its charter in 1777 but the fledgling state government was unable to provide funds for public education during the Revolutionary War. Liberty Hall closed in September 1780 when Lord Charles Cornwallis moved troops into Charlotte. After the British
withdrew, the institution, which had been used as a hospital during the occupation of the city, did not reopen. Had the college not closed, Charlotte and not Chapel Hill would have claimed the nation’s first public university.
The Liberty Hall monument was incorporated into the Charlotte Liberty Walk, a public/private partnership celebrating the revolutionary history of the City of Charlotte. This 1 mile trail dedicated in 2012 links important sites in the revolutionary history of Charlotte. Liberty Hall is Marker 4 along the walk. Other markers include the Battle of Charlotte (Marker 1); Ishmael Titus (Marker 2); Indian Trading Path (Marker 3); British Encampment plaque (Marker 6), and Queen Charlotte Walks in Her Garden sculpture (Marker 12).
The memorial is at Wells Fargo Plaza near the sidewalk. The plaza is located on the 300 block of S. Tryon Street between 3rd Street and MLK Jr. Blvd., Charlotte, NC.
The Wells Fargo plaza is surrounded by sky scrapers on three sides. The plaza is also home to a fountain, trees, landscape areas and outdoor seating.
The memorial was originally placed on the northwest corner of the 1897 courthouse square located on the same 300 block of S. Tyron Street. Its current location is near the center of the 300 block.
Guided and self-guided "Charlotte Liberty Walk" historic tours.