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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.

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. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll9/id/4894 (accessed May 24, 2013).

Samarkand Manor. GoogleMaps.

"Samarcand." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-34, N.C. Office of Archives & History. https://www.ncdcr.gov/about/history/division-historical-resources/nc-highway-historical-marker-program/Markers.aspx?sp=Markers&k=Markers&sv=K-34

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. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120708/articles/120709845

Gilkeson, Florence. "Samarkand Makes Case to Stay Open." ThePilot.com. 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: 

Comments

Comment: 

Yes! I remember Brenda Pruitt

Comment: 

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.

Comment: 

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.

Comment: 

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

Comment: 

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.

Comment: 

I AGREE WITH YOUR STATEMENT. I WAS THANKFUL FOR THAT PLACE AND STAFF THERE, BEFORE I WAS HEADING TO AN EARLY GRAVE OR PRISON , WITH STABILITY AND A PLACE TO SAY I HAVE A PLACE TO GET A MEAL AND A PLACE TO SLEEP EVERY NIGHT WITHOUT RISKING MY LIFE AND HEALTH. I KNOW THIS PLACE SAVED ME AND GAVE ME A PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE. I DREW ON WHAT I GOT FROM BEING THERE AND APPLIED IT TO HOW I CHOSE TO HELP PEOPLE TODAY,

Comment: 

I was at Samarcand from 1955 to 1958. Only good happened to me, where I had no home, food or clothing and the county took me from my parents. I graduated school and have gone to college, went to work for the federal government and retired in 1994. I married a career military officer and had 3 wonderful children. I will be 77 years old in October and am so thankful for the home. A Ms Mitchell was the superintendent when I was there. For some reason I decided to Google it today. I will never forget my last day there....I had been working on the farm helping lay irrigation pipes for watering the crops. After lunch my hall counselor told me to pack my bags and she took me to the main office. My parents were there waiting for me. I will never forget Samarcand or the wonderful workers that helped me so much.

Comment: 

Love your comments!!!!

Comment: 

Beautiful to hear! I too have fond memories Was there 66 so later than you but I'm glad there was someone else who didn't hate it

Comment: 

Hi, Mollie.
My mother was at Samarcand, but I don't know when. I think some time between 1954 and 1957 (not the whole time). We did not know this about her until just a few weeks ago. By all accounts, Samarcand did wonders for her. She was a model student. She married, had kids and a career. She passed away 6 years ago and I am sure the shame of having been sent to Samarcand is why she never spoke of this period in her life.
I would love to hear your stories and get a sense of life at the manor around that time. If you remembered my mother being there, that would be great, too.
My address is my first name, middle initial, and last name at gmail.
Best wishes,
Serena N Jewell

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