The fund’s founding donor is a great-granddaughter of William Berry McKoy, a former enslaver and a perpetrator of the 1898 Wilmington, NC Massacre and Coup d’état. More than a decade before that massacre, however, in 1887, McKoy commissioned Alfred Augustus Howe, a master carpenter, to build a home for himself and his bride, Katherine Bacon McKoy. Known today as the McKoy House, the home on South Third Street stands as a unique example of a Queen-Anne stick-style structure. The donor assigned her portion of inheritance from the House’s sale to create this fund as personal reparation and an expression of gratitude for Alfred A. Howe’s talent as represented in the House, which sheltered four generations of the McKoy family and served as “home” for five generations.
The Howe Scholarship Endowment was named in honor of the Howes, a gifted family of at least four generations of African-American builders and carpenters who contributed immensely to construction in Wilmington from the mid-19th into the early 20th centuries. Along with the aforementioned Alfred Augustus Howe, the family included his brothers and partners in the building business, Anthony and Pompey; Anthony’s sons Anthony Jr., John Harriss, Valentine (elected to the NC House of Representatives in 1887), as well as Washington Howe, who worked for the McKoy family as a property caretaker; and Alfred A.’s daughter, the prominent educator Mary Washington Howe.
See newsclips from Wilmington TV stations announcing the inaugural Howe Scholarship application period: