Thompson Orphanage and Training Institute (Edwin Augustus Osborne), Charlotte
The sculpture to Thompson Orphanage and Training Institute depicts Rev. Edwin Augustus Osborne, who is credited with founding the orphanage, and three children. All figures are barefoot, and appear to have just waded in the creek. The sculpture is situated on a stone wall with Osborne’s right foot resting on the sidewalk. His left leg is raised, held in the air with both hands wrapped around. To his proper right the oldest of the three children, a male, sits with his feet hanging off the wall. To his left are two younger females. The boy is also wearing a watch to represent a gold watch that was given to one child each year at the orphanage who was voted “Best Citizen” by their peers. The sculptor, Jane DeDecker, titled the work “On the Banks of Sugar Creek.”
Images: Far-off view of the sculpture
December 14, 2018
35.216620 , -80.834000 View in Geobrowse
Edwin, Augustus Osborne. “Fourth Regiment, N.C.S.T.” Archive.org, (accessed June 30, 2023) Link
Osborne, Dorothy H., 1991. Revised, Dease, Jared, 2022. NCPedia.org, (accessed July 23, 2023) Link
Wright, Sarafina. “Statue Added to Charlotte’s History Trail,” WFAE, December 17, 2018 (accessed June 30, 2023) Link
“This Land Once Was Thompson Orphanage,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed June 30, 2023) Link
“Thompson Orphanage and Training Institute,” Trail of History, charlottetrailofhistory.org, (accessed June 30, 2023) Link
Trail of History Inc.
The Thompson Orphanage was started by the Episcopal Church in Charlotte in 1886 and took in orphans from across North Carolina. The Rev. Edwin Augustus Osborne was the first superintendent. When founded the facility was on the outskirts of Charlotte on a 70+ acre campus that included a working farm. The children were assigned daily chores on the farm that included tending the vegetable garden and milking the cows. In 1970 the orphanage moved to a new campus in Matthews and changed names to “Thompson Children’s Home.” The orphanage was named for Lewis Thompson and his wife Margaret who donated most of the land for the campus and provided financial support.
Although born Alabama and raised in Arkansas, Rev. Osborne’s early education was paid for by a wealthy aunt living in Charlotte after he moved to live with her. Osborne entered Statesville Military Academy in 1859 and remained there until the start of the Civil War. When he joined the Confederate army the aunt gave him money to buy a horse and saddle and purchase a slave. After the war he first taught school and then practiced law until leaving the Presbyterian Church for the Episcopal Church in 1874. He was ordained a priest in 1881. After succeeding at building sanctuaries for two mission churches in the area he also established a church for Black worship, St. Michaels and All Angles in Charlotte. He was prominent in Episcopal Church work in North Carolina until his death at the age of 89.
[Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/programs/africa-carolina-0. To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncpedia.org/slavery. - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]
The statue is located on the Trail of History behind St. Mary’s Chapel with on-site parking from 3rd St. This statue is one of 21 existing or planned statues along the trail, the first of which was Spirit of Mecklenburg, Captain James Jack.
The Trail of History near uptown Charlotte follows the Little Sugar Creek greenway. The greenway runs four miles along the small stream lined with trees, shrubbery, flowering plants and places for seating.