Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students.

Today, the campus provides the setting where visitors can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century.

The museum links Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to the larger themes of African American history, women's history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made in North Carolina.

Canary Cottage (ca. 1927), Dr. Brown's personal residence, has been completely restored and appointed with both original and period furnishings.

Step back to the days when Dr. Brown played piano in the living room, and taught students how to entertain in the dining room. Window treatments, Oriental rugs, bathroom hardware, and similar features evoke the heyday of the school in the 1940s and 1950s.

Three dormitories, (including Galen Stone Hall [1927], the partially restored girls' dorm), Kimball Dining Hall (1927), the bell tower, the teahouse (campus store), and several teachers' cottages also are viewable on the campus.

Declining enrollment due to desegregation, increasing costs, and a severe fire caused Palmer to close in 1971, and the State of North Carolina eventually acquired it as the first state-supported site to honor the contributions of African Americans and women. The State Historic Site now includes a museum dedicated to Dr. Brown, but the three former dormitories are vacant and no longer safe to enter.

The museum and the three doromatories are on the 2022 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the Division of State Historic Sites, the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, and the Town of Sedalia hope the dorms can be restored so they can become an even more vital part of the community and help tell the full story of student life at Palmer Memorial Institute.