Kennedy's Commercial School


Kennedy's Commercial School

Date founded: 
Professional School

A. Virgil Kennedy, of Union County, KY, said he "rode the rails" to come to Durham from Colorado to accept a teaching job at the old Durham Business School, operated for a number of years by Mrs. Walter Lee Lednum. Kennedy had graduated from Western State Teachers College, Gunnison, CO.

His connection with Mrs. Lednum's school (defunct by 1953) lasted for several months. Then Kennedy took a job as head of commercial studies in the Durham County Schools. He kept this job for two years after he'd opened Kennedy's Commercial School in 1934 with "six or seven night school students."

Kennedy's Commercial School was first located at 401 Chapel Hill St. After one year, it was moved to the Piedmont Building at Five Points. It remained there until 1941, when Kennedy moved it to the Trust Building. In 1951, Kennedy sold out because of his health to Wilmer P. Wilson, who moved it into a separate building at 1105 West Main St., a structure once occupied by local doctors.

Kennedy estimated that from 2500-3000 students received instruction at the school during the 18 years he headed it.

In 1953, Kennedy's made use of five classrooms, as well as a combined recreation and library room at 1105 W. Main St. 54 day students were enrolled, and the usual night class enrollment was 60-70. Faculty members, in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, were Grace Anderson Mabe, Mary Lena Patterson, and Thomas H. McCauley - all full-time teachers. James Garland Weathers was an assistant instructor.

Wilson was a native of Davidson, NC and a graduate of the University of North Carolina. His wife came from Lexington, NC and formerly taught at Brevard Junior College.


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