In 1877, North Carolina selected Howard as the location of a training school for colored teachers. These teachers would fill the faculties of rural schools for recently freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. State Colored Normal School would ultimately relocate to its Murchison Road location and become Fayetteville State University.
Charles Chesnutt began to attend school here in 1867. The Howard School was established by the Freedmen's Bureau with Andrew Jackson Chesnutt, Charles' father, serving as one of the trustees and by 1871, Charles was working as a pupil-teacher.
After the state designated Howard as the training site for negro teachers, Principal Robert Harris chose Charles Chesnutt, who was only 19 at the time, as his first assistant.
In November 1880, Charles became principal of the school after Harris died of a long illness and would serve in this capacity until 1883 when he finally acted on his ambition to leave the South.
The library at Fayetteville State bears his name.