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College professor finds cache of school history

 Professor Brooks Harrington found a treasure trove of Fayetteville State University history in his home. He has donated some items and will keeps others to display at the home.
Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer
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Date published: 11/22/2012


The Fayetteville Observer


--Brooks Harrington had lived in his home on Broadell Drive for nearly a year before he discovered the briefcase, boxes and large trunk tucked away in the attic.

What he found inside was a treasure trove of Fayetteville State University history from the early 1950s, including personal items of two longtime educators who built the home. Since going through the boxes, he has learned more about the home's significance in the rise of middle-class black families in Fayetteville.

The items belonged to Henry "Doc" and Mary Terry Eldridge. They included faded letters and documents from what was then Fayetteville State Teachers College, Italian music books and a W2 form from 1952 for $4,132.12 paid to Henry Eldridge, who was chairman of mathematics and science.

Mary Terry Eldridge taught music at FSU and was the first black woman elected to the Fayetteville city school board. She was a Golden AKA with 65 years of membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, while her husband was a founder of FSU's Omega Psi Phi chapter. Both died in 2010.

Harrington had purchased the home from the couple's son, Henry Eldridge III, in December 2008. The home was among the first residences in Fayetteville built for middle-class and professional blacks during the 1950s. It still looks as it did when the couple first moved in--cedar panels on the walls, a marble mantel above the fireplace, the original chandelier with crystals from Germany.

The 3,078-square-foot home was custom-built, Harrington said. It sits at an angle at the corner of Seabrook Road and Broadell Drive, designed that way to reflect the love Henry Eldridge had for mathematics.

"There is a lot of history in the home," said Henry Eldridge III. "If the walls could talk or if it could sing, it would sing beautiful notes and memories."

Harrington said his neighbors have shared stories with him, such as how the home once served as a place for blacks to register to vote. The Eldridges hosted dignitaries, from former UNC President William Friday to opera singer Marian Anderson.

Harrington, who teaches English at FSU, said he always had an interest in the house.

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