Douglas Preservation Center

The Douglas Preservation Center c. 1943-1945

St. Joseph Catholic Church and School were founded in 1887 by Father Thomas Frederick Price to serve the black community and educate their children. Located on the 300-block of Bern Street, the property grew from one building in the late 1880s to a complex of five by the time the school closed in 1969. In 1926, sisters from the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary joined the parish to support and teach in the segregated black school at St. Joseph.

The school was destroyed by fire in 1943. The complex was rebuilt under the leadership of Fr. Julian Endler. In 1962, St. Joseph integrated with the all-white school at St. Paul. St. Joseph was renamed William Gaston Catholic High School.

In 1991, the Tryon Palace Executive Committee identified future needs for a visitor center, conservation lab, and carpenter shop. Palace staff identified the former St. Joseph school site as one of three possible locations for expansion of the Palace. The buildings were purchased by the Kellenberger Historical Foundation and ownership transferred to the State of North Carolina.

The Kellenberger Foundation voted unanimously on July 19, 1993 to rename the property after Robert Dick Douglas, Jr., then-chairman of the Foundation.  The title was shortened to Douglas Complex, but later updated to the Douglas Preservation Center.