The McGowan-Thomas House located at the southeast corner of Chestnut and Columbia Streets was once part of The Greenville Collegiate Institute. The Methodists of the Washington District of the N.C. Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South received a deed to six acres of land in 1881 and began building The Greenville Collegiate Institute. It was never finished and Alfred Forbes, Isaac A. Suggs, and Harry Skinner bought the property in May 1884 and finished building the school. The Greenville Male and Female Institute opened on September 1, 1885 with Prof. John Duckett as principal. The Institute merged with the Greenville Male Academy in August 1890 and became the Greenville Institute for Both Sexes. From September 1894 to June 1895, it was called the Pitt Female Seminary. Mrs. Della Gay rented the building in August 1895 and turned it into the College Hotel. It became a school again when Prof. L.L. Hargrave and his wife started a school for girls in 1898. In December 1899, the building was moved and separated into three houses which later became rental apartments.