Dr. Charles B. Dusenbury
Calvary Parochial School
The Calvary Parochial School was established in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1884 by the Reverend Charles Bradford Dusenbury. He was a descendant of a Christian family who put high values on education and who sent him to the Presbyterian Parochial School in Lexington. There he came under the influence and instruction of the Reverend James A. Chresfield. Charles Dusenbury made an excellent record at the parochial school and through Chresfield's influence was enrolled in Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He graduated with honors from both the college and seminary departments of this institution. His first pastorate was at New Bern, North Carolina, where he received valuable experience for the tasks which awaited him in Asheville.
Dusenbury went to Asheville in 1881 at the insistence of the Committee of Missions for Freedmen to organize a Presbyterian church among Negroes. The way had been opened there for a Negro church and school work through efforts made by some of the white people who had maintained both a day and Sunday school.
In 1884, three years after reaching Asheville, Dusenbury began the Calvary Parochial School and preached in the old Catholic Hill Church, while he and his family lived in cramped quarters in the back of the building. After a short lapse of time, however, a wooden church was built on Eagle Street. On the back of this lot was a small house where the Dusenburys lived with courage and self-sacrifice for several months. Later, however, a manse was built through the kindness of "a friend." (It was not always discreet to indicate openly a favorable disposition toward the Board's program. To prevent stirring up animosity, therefore, many valuable donations were made anonymously.)
Getting the Presbyterian system to work in the locality was not an easy task for the Dusenburys. To preach a gospel without undue emotional appeal but with Christian living as its aim and goal did not immediately arouse a great deal of enthusiasm. There was even opposition among fellow ministers to "the Dusenbury new ways." Especially was this true in the conduct of "Big Meetings" in which all denominations participated. The Reverend Dusenbury's courage, ardent piety, and good judgement, however, won the respect and good will of his fellow Christians and citizens at large, whatever their denomination or race.
Calvary Parochial School grew until its enrollment of 150 pupils exceeded normal capacity. In addition to the ordinary graded school work, instruction was given in the Bible, the Shorter Catechism, and in practical lessons in cooking and gardening. The tuition fee ranged from ten to fifteen cents per month and was collected when and where possible. Dusenbury once remarked, "The pupils are taught to be honest and truthful, to be pure in thoughts and habits, to be kind and considerate, and also to be clean in their persons, for we believe in a soap and water gospel as well as the other kind and our efforts are to impress the virtues of each."24
After thirty-six years of devoted service, the Reverend Charles Dusenbury died during the summer of 1920, "not an old man but worn out by a life of unremitting work for his people and for his scholars." The school was run by Mrs. Dusenbury until 1922 when the Reverend G. W. Hamilton became the new pastor of the church and principal of the school. Five years later the school was discontinued.