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Chapel Hill Academy

On U.S. Highway 264 between Amity Church and St. George's Church, there is a large, square, two-story building known today as the Masonic Lodge. Almost all the information which we have today about this building in its early years has been handed down verbally from one generation to another. Old timers agree that it was constructed for use as a school for higher education to prepare students for college. Such subjects as penmanship, Greek, Latin, land surveying, and Shakespeare were taught in addition to the 3 R's. There were also debating societies which called for training in oratory. This school was known by several names, Amity Academy, Mattamuskeet Academy, Chapel Hill Academy and Indian Ridge Academy. In the memory of people living today it was known as "The Academy". The school was started by eight stockholders, prominent citizens in the community, who wanted a better education for their children than was available in the schools of that day. It was a private school and only those pupils who could pay for tuition could attend. The school was open twelve months each year with two weeks vacation in the summer and two weeks at Christmas. Many of the men in this area who became doctors, lawyers, and educational leaders received their preparation for college at this academy. Records in the courthouse show that stockholders of Mattamuskeet Academy sold a piece of land to the trustees of Amity Church in 1848. It is not known when the building ceased to be used as a school, but it is known that a local teacher conducted a small private school there as late as 1894 and the same year taught two months of public school there. In 1873 Masonic Lodge 328 was organized and held its first meeting on the second floor of the academy. For awhile the Lodge rented the building but in 1874 the Masons began negotiations to buy the building. Most of the shareholders eventually sold their shares to the Masons. There are still two or three shares which the Masons have not been able to purchase. They have used the second floor of the Academy for their meetings since 1873. Even when the first floor was being used as a school building, it was sometimes used for church functions. St. George's congregation held services there while their church was being built. For many years after the Academy was no longer used as a school, it was still used for church and community functions.

Between 1912 and 1930 the first floor of the Academy seems to have been abandoned. The place was vandalized with doors and shutters torn off the hinges and windows torn out. It was in such poor condition the women of St. George's Church and Amity Church formed a civic club to restore it. The Masons helped with the project, and once again this building became the center of community activity. In recent years Eastern Star Chapter 213 has remodeled both floors, and the lower floor is now used for their social functions.

(Photo from Historic Lake Landing Landmarks brochure submitted by Margie Brooks from the Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce. Information from Hyde County History published by the Hyde Co. Historical Society in 1976.)