Oxford College and
The original Gaston College, opened in 1884 in Dallas, North Carolina, is often
confused with the present day Gaston College, founded in 1966 in Gastonia, North
Carolina. However, the Gaston College historian Kenneth J. Sanford points out
that the two are connected by an “inspirational lineage.”
Drawing of the main building of Gaston College.
To see more Gaston College ephemera preserved at the North Carolina Collection, click on the picture.
The original Gaston College began in the form of Gaston High School, founded
in 1879. In 1882 Marcus Lafayette Little became principal.
Two years later Little
organized a collegiate curriculum in addition to the high school, and Gaston
College was born. The opening enrollment in the College was 215 students.
The original accommodations quickly proved too small for the burgeoning institution.
Work was begun on a new three-story brick building the same year the College
opened. It was heralded as “a gem of architecture, an ornament to the
town, and a credit to the county.”
The College was ahead of its time in the fact that it was coeducational. This
distinction lasted for five years, until in 1889 the institution became Gaston
College for Girls. The high school departments, however, remained coeducational.
The College eventually closed its doors in 1905. The buildings were sold to
Gaston County and were used as an elementary school.
Source for image on this page: Image from “Mid Summer Circular of Gaston College,” in the
Gaston College Ephemera Collection, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. VC378.9 M67 Gaston Coll.
Hill, Michael, ed. Guide to North Carolina Highway Historical Markers.
Raleigh, N.C.: Division of Archives and History, 2001. 86 p.
Powell, William S. Higher Education in North Carolina. Raleigh, N.C.:
State Department of Archives and History, 1970. 71 p.
Sanford, Kenneth J. Building a Future From the Past: The History of Gaston
College, 1964-1999. Dallas, N.C.: Gaston College, 1999.