Indians try to save old college building.

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Janson, Donald. “Indians try to save old college building.” New York Times June 10, 1972, page 22. 1169 words.


Useful overview of the background and issues involved in the highly publicized “Save Old Main” movement. Pembroke State University Chancellor English Jones had authorized—and North Carolina Governor Robert W. Scott and the Council of State had approved—the destruction of the 49-year-old Old Main building, to make way for construction of a $1.6 million auditorium. Some 8,600 Lumbees and other supporters signed a petition urging preservation of the building, which symbolized, for the Lumbees, progress and access to education after being unable to attend school for over fifty years. Before it was padlocked for safety reasons, Old Main had been used not only as a classroom building and auditorium but also for Lumbee gospel sings, annual school festivals, and funerals for illustrious Lumbee individuals. Dexter Brooks, Lumbee, and then a mathematics teacher, stated, “There is not a single educated Indian around here who cannot trace the origins of his education to Old Main.”

The article cites a telephone conversation with Sam Ragan, then serving as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, in which Ragan explained that the agency’s assessment was that Old Main had only “intangible” historical significance—too little for the state to recommend it for federal status as a historic site.

The article also discusses issues such as Pembroke State University’s mostly white enrollment and observations by Lewis R. Barton (see also The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, item 212) and Randall Ackley (see also The Lumbee Indians: an annotated bibliography, item 225) about the university’s “de-Indianization.”

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