What’s in an Elon street name?

Pam Richter – Class of 2011
June 11, 2010

Driving around Elon’s campus, each street name is unique. Each of these street names is named after historical figures or places that impacted the founding of the university in some way.  Below is a list of the main street names and a description of their origins.

Lebanon Avenue:

Old Lebanon Church was located in Surry County, Va. In 1792, Rev. James O’Kelly and 20 other ministers gathered at the site of the church. Shortly after this gathering, the Christian Church was organized in 1794. This became the first native Protestant denomination founded in America. Before 1794, Lebanon Chapel had been a meeting house for John Wesley’s “Methodist Societies.” The word “old” was added to the name in 1882 to distinguish it from the New Lebanon Church, which was established that year and also located in Surry County, Va.

A map of Elon College.

Manning Avenue:

John N. Manning was born in Rockingham County, Va. in 1833. After attending Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), he became a minister in the Christian Church. In 1859, at the North Carolina and Virginia Christian Conference, which was held in Alamance County, he was ordained an Elder in the Christian Church. During his years with the conference, he served on many committees.  He had one son and two daughters with his first wife, and after her passing, he married again. He died in 1880 after establishing himself as a prominent minister in the South.

O’Kelly Avenue:
James O’Kelly was born in Mecklenburg County, Va. sometime between the years of 1735 and 1738. His exact birth date is not known. On June 25, 1759 he married Elizabeth Meeks and they had two children. O’Kelly embraced the followers of John Wesley in 1774 and became a licensed lay minister in 1775. From 1775 – 1792 he was a presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. O’Kelly broke away from the Methodists in 1792 and a year later, he and his followers formed the Christian Church. In December of 1793 they began to call themselves the Republic Methodists or “Okellyites.” In a meeting on August 4, 1794, they adopted the name ‘Christians’. James O’Kelly passed away on October 16, 1826. The establishment of the Christian Church in 1794, by James O’Kelly and his followers, paved the way for institutions of higher education to be created with a Christian association, such as Elon College.

Trollinger Avenue:

William H. Trollinger donated 25 acres for the site of Elon College. During discussions on where to establish the college, Trollinger proposed the tract of land at Mill Point. This was a freight loading station on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, five miles west of Burlington, N.C.

Williamson Avenue:

Captain J.N. Williamson, a benefactor, had an impact on Elon College before it was officially established. Williamson is credited with contributing the “largest cash donation to the enterprise” even though he was not a member of the Christian Church. Also, he built the first house on Elon’s campus, which was located across the railroad tracks, south of campus. It was the only house that was finished when the school was completed. The house was later renamed the Foster House. In 1887, Williamson launched an initiative to have a small railroad station built at what was then called Boon’s Station.


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