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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.

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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: 



My mother frances and aunt shirley bare were there in 1958 would love to see pictures from then


I was there for a short time 74/75. I view it as a blessing for me. I remember Mr and Mrs Leathers and their children Joey and Jamie. I loved them. I remember Ms Cook. I remember working at the manor and in the kitchen for 10 cents an hour. I enjoyed being there.


I was there 75-76 WOW


My mother Teresa Elaine Ott was there in 1964 or 1965. She had horrible stories to tell. She said that they we not allowed to have a kotex and no underwear. She was made to kill chickens and pluck the feathers. She became an alcoholic partly due to her treatment there. State run institutions are terrible. I work in the prison system. Does anyone remember my mother?


I want to go see how Samarcand looks now
I have the most horrible memories of that place. I was deathly afraid of Miss Mitchell. She came to Ireland Hall where I stayed and cut all of my hair for refusing to shine the floors by hand.


Director/Warden Mitchell was an evil racist old witch. After the second 30 days of solitary confinement she told me she had to let me out after 30 days but I could right back in as before. I had enough of her persecution & told her she may lock me up again but before she had a reason that I might just break out & burn her & her fat cat up in her cottage first, after all Indians could start fires with two sticks. The next day when I get out of lockup I was informed as long as I did not do anything to change it I would be released in ten days. July 26, 1973. Four months out of 10 in solitary confinement 24/7 lockdown & 10 minute showers was the only escape from a small cell. Read a lot of books. The whole thing about it was I didn't need reform school, I needed a foster home. The system failed me & everyone else.


Lord have mercy! I'm sorry you suffered at that place. It sounds horrible. I had an aunt Carolyn Jean Pulley who was sent there sometime in the 1960's. I don't know why. I've been doing some family history and remembered my aunt being there so I looked it up. Anyway, I'm glad you survived that place. God bless you.


I was there from1967-1968 I ran away and they locked me up at Gardner Hall! For 20 days it was pure hell!


I'm sorry you had that awful experience. My aunt was there sometime in the 60's, but I'm not sure which years. Her name was Carolyn Jean Pulley. Does her name ring a bell?


I was there 67-69. I remember quite a bit during my time. And it still stands today "we see what we want to see". Prejudice still exists. Favoritism still exist, and we all turn a blind eye to what we don't want to admit that is there.

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