This women’s liberal arts college was founded in 1899 by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina as Baptist Female University. Originally located in downtown Raleigh, in 1926 the university, by then renamed Meredith College in honor of Baptist leader Thomas Meredith, moved to its current location on Hillsborough Street, three miles west of downtown. Local architecture firm Wilson, Berryman, and Kennedy designed a quadrangle with a central lawn and six Georgian-style buildings, including an administrative building (now called Johnson Hall), a cafeteria, and four residence halls. East and west quadrangles were soon added, and a network of brick and concrete sidewalks was constructed in a radiating pattern throughout the campus.
Beginning in 1944 and through the 1950s, landscape architect Charles Gillette worked on plans for the campus, which resulted in a vision for a dramatically expanded college, including numerous new classroom and dormitory buildings and other college facilities. Gillette’s plan focused on the core central campus. In 1964 landscape architect Richard Bell was hired to design the 1,500-seat McIver Amphitheater. In 1968 he implemented a comprehensive master plan for the campus that included new roads, formal gardens, informal grounds, a library, residence halls, and an athletic field and gymnasium. In 1974 the campus’ formal entrance drive was enhanced with the addition of the Shaw Memorial Fountain, another component of the Bell plan, which has since been renovated. A row of fifty Japanese cherry trees was added in 1980-1981. The campus spans 225 acres, with the 5.3-mile Reedy Creek Trail connecting the college to other key institutions in the area, including North Carolina State University, William B. Umstead State Park, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.