Historic Murfreesboro was once referred to as “the Athens of the South.” In order to fittingly fulfill this description, education needed to be prominent on the roster. In the late 1800s there were two major female institutions located in the town – Wesleyan Female Institute (Methodist) and Chowan Female Institute (Baptist).
In the spring of 1811, this recently constructed building became the home of the Hertford Academy where Rev. Jonathan Otis Freeman taught reading, spelling, arithmetic, Latin, Greek, geography, English grammar, natural philosophy, logic, and the use of gloves.
Around 1825, Harriet Sketchley (Mrs. James Banks) purchased the building as a school for young ladies, and in 1848 it was acquired for the Chowan Female Institute which later became Chowan College. In 1855, Chowan sold it to Albert G. Jones, who remodeled it into a residence. In 1983, the Hertford Academy was donated to the Murfreesboro Historical Association by the Murfreesboro Federated Woman's Club. The Hertford Academy is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Murfreesboro is both old and new; but there is nothing old here – that is, too old – not even the well-preserved vineclad colonial homes. There is nothing new that is too new, not even the artesian well. There is a blending – a beautiful blending – a blending of tradition and trade – a blending of history and hustle – a blending of colonial coronets and caramels – a blending of slavery days and sulky plows – Chowan country, rich and fertile, venerable, honorable, healthful and happy.”
– taken from the May 17, 1906, address by Lieutenant Governor Francis D. Winston at the 58th Commencement of Chowan Baptist Female Institute.