1st all-black school in Pacolet stands as symbol of history
PACOLET, S.C. (AP) — Across the street from the Middle School of Pacolet — formerly Benjamin E. Mays High School — a three-room, wooden building sits on a small hill, blue and white paint flaking off of it.
The L-shaped structure, which has not been used since 1954, stands as a symbol of Pacolet’s past as a mill village and the history of a segregated South. The Marysville Community School was built in 1915 and was the first all-black school in Pacolet.
Jesse “Gene” Campbell, 84, has lived in Pacolet his entire life and studies the town’s history. He said the school building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, is a vital piece of the town’s past.
“I don’t want to do anything to take away from what it is now,” he said. “I want everybody to remember where it is that we come from.”
The school served children in the Marysville community, a small village the Pacolet Manufacturing Co. built to keep the town’s black and white residents separate.
Sometimes known as Mayesville, the village was originally called Gillam Town before it was changed to Marysville in honor of Mary Brown Knuckles, who established the school.
When it was built, the school had only two rooms, but was later expanded to three, according to the National Register. The school was closed shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation was unconstitutional in 1954.
Every room in the school still has its original slate board, floors and walls.
The town of Pacolet acquired the building in the early 2000s, and Mayor Michael Meissner said leaders have been exploring funding options to preserve the site.
Campbell said he’s proud to see the building still standing more than a century after it was built.
“The most important thing about us is our history,” he said.
Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/