In 1973, citizens residing in and around Mt. Pleasant, NC purchased the main building of the former Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute (previously North Carolina College and the Western Carolina Male Academy) and formed the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society with the intention to renovate that building for use as a local museum.
Owing to the hard work and sacrifices of those visionary leaders, the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum opened to the public in 1980. Each of the museum’s 30 themed rooms holds artifacts, photographs and documents relating to the history of eastern Cabarrus County and beyond. Items donated or loaned to the society by local individuals and families range from old farm tools and vintage clothing to antique toys and items from military conflicts dating from the Civil War to the present.
The museum building itself was constructed between 1853 and 1855 as a NC Lutheran Synod sponsored school for young men. The school, first called the Western Carolina Male Academy, opened in 1855. In 1859 the Western Carolina Male Academy was re-chartered as North Carolina College and authorized to grant advanced degrees. The school suspended operations from 1861 through 1865 due to the Civil War, but re-opened in 1866 and continued in operation until 1902 (the last graduating class was in May 1901). After a very short stint as the Carolina English & Classical School, a new men's preparatory school was opened in 1903 as the Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute. MPCI operated until 1933.
For the next 40 years the building was used as apartments and a storage building. The structure was abandoned in the 1950s and in danger of demolition when the ECHS purchased and renovated it.
In 2013, ECHS opened a second building on the site known as Society Hall. This building houses a library of books, documents and photographs relating to the history and families of eastern Cabarrus County. It also contains the ECHS office, a small meeting room, and a large lecture hall.
Today the Museum building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for tours and special events.