Lula Verlinda Martin McIver was born in Salem, North Carolina, on June 8, 1864, to Dr. Samuel Martin, a dentist, and Verlinda Miller Martin, who had graduated with honors from Edgeworth Seminary in Greensboro. She graduated from Salem Academy in 1881. She worked in a number of public schools in North Carolina, including the Winston (N.C.) Graded School. There she met her husband-to-be, Charles Duncan McIver, in 1884. They married in 1885.
In 1886, she and Charles both moved to teach at Peace Institute in Raleigh. She also served briefly as the “lady principal” at the Charlotte Female Institute (now Queen’s University). While in Charlotte, she she studied medicine with Dr. Annie Laurie Alexander, the state’s first practicing woman physician.
The McIvers moved to Greensboro in 1892 when Charles was named president of the new State Normal and Industrial School. As the campus’s first lady, she received guests and participated in many civic organizations. She served on the board of directors of the YMCA and helped found the Woman’s Betterment Association. She also provided her husband assistance in planning, constructing, and organizing the new school.
Charles McIver died in 1906, but Lula remained in what came to be known as the McIver House until her death in 1944.
The McIvers had four children: Annie, Lula Martin, Verlinda (who died as a child), and Charles, Jr.