Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

Samarcand Manor

by Julian M. Pleasants, 2006

See also: Samarcand (Research Branch, NCO&H)

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187. Samarcand Manor, officially the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, was a humane correctional institution for young women established near Eagle Springs by the North Carolina state legislature in 1918. The purpose of the school was to reclaim and train delinquent girls by providing a "homelike place where those who have fallen may find temporary shelter, and under a firm yet kind discipline, begin to live morally." The school, built on 230 acres in Samarcand (named for the Muslim city conquered by Alexander the Great that served as his empire's seat of learning and culture), was one of the first institutions of its type in the South. The original clients were young girls or women who had been convicted of being prostitutes, vagrants, or habitual drunkards or who were guilty of any misdemeanor suggesting that they were "not virtuous." There were no definite terms, but the clients could not be held more than three years and were to be released on good behavior.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.Agnes B. MacNaughton became Samarcand's first superintendent, and by 1919 more than 200 women between the ages of 10 and 30 had arrived. In the 1920s the daily program emphasized Bible study, manners, cleanliness, music, nature, and sports in addition to the regular academic subjects. The girls also received vocational training in sewing, weaving, canning, laundry work, and poultry and dairying activities. The program stressed self-reliance and pride in one's work. Between 1928 and 1930 a total of 296 girls were admitted, most between the ages of 12 and 16. By 1930 Samarcand had a hospital and an accredited high school.

In 1931, 16 Samarcand inmates set fire to two dorms and were charged with arson, then a capital crime. While awaiting trial, the girls burned their jail cells. Eight of the 12 involved were eventually sent to prison. Samarcand survived this notorious 1931 incident and other difficulties but was unable to withstand the financial strains of the Great Depression and the siphoning off of staff during World War II. In 1974 the state changed the name of the institution to Samarcand Manor and placed it under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Youth Division. Samarcand became one of five state training schools designed to rehabilitate delinquent children (both male and female) between the ages of 10 and 17. The school shifted its emphasis to treatment and therapy. In the early 2000s Samarcand had approximately 190 clients (40 females and 150 males) and 210 staff members.

References: "Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

Ida Briggs Henderson, "The Work at Samarcand," The State (4 Apr. 1936).

Lisbeth Parrott, "Samarcand Opens Door of Hope to 1,000th Girl in Tenth Year," Raleigh News and Observer, 7 Oct. 1928.

Samarcand Manor: 50th Anniversary, 1918-1968 (1968).

Additional Resources:

State Home and Industrial School for Girls (Samarcand, N.C.). Biennial report of the Board of Directors and Superintendent of the State Home and Industrial School for Girls, Samarcand Manor, Samarcand, N.C. Samarcand, N.C. [N.C.]: The School. 1926-1938. (accessed May 24, 2013).

Samarkand Manor. GoogleMaps.

"Samarcand." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-34, N.C. Office of Archives & History.

McLaurin, Melton Alonza, and Russell, Anne. The Wayward Girls of Samarcand: A true story of the American South. Wilmington, N.C.: Bradley Creek Press. 2012.

Steelman, Ben. "Review - McLaurin, Russell write a gripping yarn." StarNews Media. July 8, 2012.

Gilkeson, Florence. "Samarkand Makes Case to Stay Open." September 24, 2009.  #

Image Credits:

Samarcand Building, 1926. Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_187.

"Playtime, children on the wagon." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call #: N_98_9_188.

"Our Three Youngest." Image courtesy of State Archives of North Carolina, call#: N_98_9_189.

Origin - location: 



I would love to have some pictures of Samarcand when I was there. I was there from 66-69. I remember a Judy Perry, from Raleigh, NC, A girl named Connie, whom was so pretty with short blonde hair. A Lewtisha Sumner or Sumter. I would love to heard from her. I remember we could go to the office and get a drink and a candy bar once a month when our caseworker came.I remember having to hold hands to walk to watch a movie. I think they were working on the pool before I left. I remember a girl named Rose. She was young. I remember 2 sisters one named Mary and I think her sister's name was Brenda. Anyone remember me please get in touch. A Kathy Wallace and a girl named Gail who helped me with my geography lessons. One thing I just couldn't get the hang of.
I was short and had short brown hair. A Sandy Elliott. I know I spelled these names wrong, but at 67 I am lucky I can spell mine. lol I had so much wanted to go back and visit the place after I left but never got the time.


Does she remember Brenda Pruitt


Yes! I remember Brenda Pruitt


Samarcand Manaor wasn't a horrible place for me at all as far as the staff goes, it was always my peers like with all teens you have "growing- up" issues. No i didn't thinknit was fair that I was sent there, I even tried to runaway but as a whole it was a great place to lean self discipline, grow self confidence etc. I'm 29 years old and I will be 30 this year I was sent to Samarcand Manor when I was 14, I was teenager who was lost in a world I didnt understand yet now looking back I see how my time at the Manor really helped me find myself. I didn't go through anybof the harsh things in which I've read about, however nothing surprises me so to hear of the experiences that others have gone through its not shocking or upsetting for myslelf its just information which I've stumbled upon. I loved the senery I enjoyed the walks we would take through different paths which had been closed off for ages, I even liked the staff although some of them had their favorites they still pretty cool. The only incident I can recall was when a staff member was caught having relations with a few of the girls in the program. Once that situation was taken care of I didn't hear of anything else. There was one staff member who I won't EVER forget she was a small caucasian lady about maybe 5ft even maybe less with super dark hair and a heart of gold. I wont disclose her name however I will say that I'm truly greatful for the effort she put into all the girls, she was taken advantage of at times because she would be very lenient with us but she never gave up on us and I must say mainly myself. She saw in me what I couldn't reach or bring out to the surface and she helped me with that. All I can say is thank you Samarcand Manor for the wonderful learning experience that helped me grow and continue to grow into the person I was ment to be.


I was told this place may be haunted, please advise does anyone have the history to this or where one can look up the history on it.


Hi, Jackie.

Thank you for your question. I was not able to find any lore along these lines about Samarcand Manor.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


I think a lot of these comments that are bad or coming from people that had problems prior to go in there. And probably will always have problems. That poor old me thing. I know people that is had a good life and they act that way. I was a very angry and trouble child I went there and I didn't get nothing in return but love. My house parents were wonderful got to play in the pool and have fun where I never had that my whole childhood. So if people are judging by the remarks that are being made please don't go by what these people are saying because it wasn't a bad place believe me my life was bad before I went there. Going hungry then go hungry there had a bed to sleep in didn't have a bed to sleep in when I was at home. Got treated like crap at home got some good there so please people don't put bad comments just to get attention because it's wrong making a place like that look bad when it wasn't.


that place was like a little orphanage it wasn't bad at all has swimming pool privileges impact privileges you play pool and all kind of stuff and I was a bad child I got sent there from running away really running away and it wouldn't nobody treated me bad


I was there in 89.
I was in irland cottage. The start with after I got out of new beginnings.
Then went to New Horizons before I went home .
I was in a bodybuilding contest there and won 3rd place in my decision. I wish I could get that tap !
They told me once I got out I could come back and get it .
I never knew it would ever close .
Smh , I'm afraid I'll never see that tap . I was 15yrs old . I worked so hard for that trophy in my room . :( I wish I could go back to those days knowing what I know now .


I did kinda like this place call me stupid if you want to BUT it was a whole lot better place to live than where I came from. I sister was there too her name was Peggy

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, please note thats some email servers are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. These often include student email addresses from public school email accounts. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at