Land Purchase

Camp Butner Mission





History of Camp Butner

At the time the United States entered World War II, approximately 40,300 acres of agricultural land within southern Granville County were purchased by the Federal Government. August 4, 1942 was the beginning of what was then known as “The Camp Butner Reservation.” Camp Butner was named in honor of the late Major General Henry Wolfe Butner, a native of Surry County, who died in 1937 following a distinguished military career. Camp Butner was established for the training of infantry divisions and various artillery and engineer units within the Fourth Services Command, Army Ground Forces. At the time it was officially activated, Camp Butner consisted of approximately 40,384 acres.

During 1942 through 1945, Camp Butner’s primary mission was to train combat troops for deployment and redeployment to the European and Pacific theaters. The Camp contained rifle ranges, artillery ranges, a prisoner of war compound, and barracks and support services for approximately 40,000 troops.

Camp Butner was officially closed by the War Department on January 31, 1947. On April 26, 1947, the War Assets Administration assumed responsibility for the acreage. As the Camp was phased out, over 20,000 acres were sold back to the farmers who had original ownership. Approximately 5,000 acres were transferred to the North Carolina National Guard which maintains it for training. In addition, over 13,000 acres were transferred to the State of North Carolina in 1947. On November 3, 1947, the State of North Carolina took over the Camp and assumed the police and fire services. Also at this time, Mr. John Umstead, brother of Governor William B. Umstead, initiated a move in the North Carolina Legislature to provide better care for the mentally ill. This was the beginning of what is now known as “Butner,” which quickly became the home of a number of State facilities.

The abandoned army hospital became the site for John Umstead Hospital. The hospital serves the 16 counties of the North Central Region. Its primary function is to provide an inpatient facility to diagnose and treat individuals (6 years and older) with psychiatric disorders, restore them to an optimal level of functioning, and return them to the community.

Also during 1947, the Butner Training School, known as “The Colony” opened. The site, an old army barracks on 9th and 10th Streets between “C” and “D” streets received its first transfers from Caswell Center on June 9, 1948. In 1955, construction began on the current site, which in 1963 became known as the Murdoch Center. This center was named after the late Dr. James Murdoch. Dr. Murdoch was known for the beginning of a new era of reform in mental health in North Carolina. The Murdoch Center provides services in a comprehensive residential setting for severely mentally retarded residents.

1947 was also the year that the State Legislature designated the State Board of Mental Health as the governing body of the Town of Butner. The Board was given the power to prepare, adopt and enforce ordinances and regulations for the development of both the State and privately owned property in the area. In 1973, following State government reorganization, the Department of Human Resources (currently the Department of Health and Human Services) was given this responsibility. Also during 1973, the Butner Municipal Committee was appointed to advise the Secretary of Human Resources in governing the Town. The responsibility of managing the Town was assigned to the business manager of John Umstead Hospital.

In the past, the Department of Health and Human Services employed a full-time Town Manager for Butner. The Butner Planning Council, comprised of seven Butner residents, had formal powers in the adoption and administration of land use ordinances, and represented an informal advisory role with respect to other municipal services and powers.

Other significant dates are as follows:

The latest information of newly incorporated Town of Butner

2007 November 1 – Effective date Butner was incorporated as a municipality

Butner Incorporation Bill #986 was signed by Governor Mike Easley on July 27, 2007. The Town of Butner has a full-time Town Manager and operates under the “Council-Manager” form of government prescribed in North Carolina General Statute 160A-147. Elected officials consist of a Mayor, who serves a two (2) year term and six (6) Council Members with four (4) year terms. In August 2010, the population was 7,591.


Mayor Thomas Lane
Mayor Pro-Tem Linda Jordon
Council Member Vickie Cates
Council Member Christene Emory
Council Member Bill McKellar
Council Member Michel Branch
Council Member Terry Turner

Thomas Marrow Town Manager
Melissa Hodges Town Planner
Dianne White Town Clerk
Susan Hiscocks Finance Director
Anna Mimken Administrative Support Specialist

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