Columbia in Richland County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Booker T. Washington High School
1916 - 1974
From the day it opened its doors in 1916 Booker T. Washington High School played a major roll in the life of Columbia's black community. Originally a school with all grades, eventually it evolved into a Junior-Senior High School, until 1948 when Booker T. Washington was the only high school for blacks in the city. When the school closed its doors in 1974 nearly 90% of the of the black high school graduates in Columbia had something in common - they had all graduated from Booker T. Washington. To the young men and women of several generations, Booker T. Washington was the source of learning and intellectual development, a home for the greater part of the day, and a community center.
The school had as great an influence on the black community as it did on its students. Concerts, dramatic presentations, operettas, and other public performances were a part of the cultural life of the community. Commencement exercises at the school were events long remembered by the community. Many parents who had come from humble beginnings
A building is but bricks and mortar, subject to decay and destruction. A spirit is indestructable so long as it is cherished in the hearts of men and women. So it is with Booker T. Washington High School. The building is gone but the spirit of community service and pride which its students learned within its walls still lives.
Therefore, in recognition of the influence of Booker T. Washington High School in the development and education of the black youth of the city of Columbia and of its significance in the life of the black community of the city. The University of South Carolina has caused this plaque to be erected so that the building which nourished the spirit of all Washingtonians shall be forever remembered. Erected in the City of Columbia in the year of the 200th anniversary of the Independence of the United States, the 175th anniversary of the founding of the University of South Carolina and the anniversary of the opening of Booker T. Washington High School.
The original Booker T. Washington High School building was demolished in 1975. Some of the bricks from this historic structure were used in the paving of the university's Horseshoe.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1916.
Location. 33° 59.595′ N, 81° 1.57′ W. Marker is in Columbia, South Carolina, in Richland County. Located on campus of the University of South Carolina, near Washington Auditorium, westside sidewalk between Blossom and Wheat Streets. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Columbia SC 29201, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Booker T. Washington School/Booker T. Washington High (within shouting distance of this marker); Gladden Home Site (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Richard Theodore Greener (1844-1922) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Blossom Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); Site of Parade Ground (approx. ¼ mile away); Mexican Border and World War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); "Commissioners' Oak" (approx. 0.3 miles away); Beth Shalom Cemetery (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
Regarding Booker T. Washington High School. The two-story main building - Booker T. Washington School, built in 1916, stood until 1975. At first an elementary school with grades 1-10, it became Booker T. Washington High School with grades 9-10 in 1918, added grade 11 in 1924, and added grade 12 in 1947. Columbia’s only black high school from 1917 to 1948 and for many years the largest black high school in the state, it closed in 1974.
Booker T. Washington High, one of the first black high schools accredited by the S.C. Dept. of Education, was also one of the most significant institutions in Columbia’s black community for more than fifty years. Notable principals included C.A. Johnson, 1916-1931; J. Andrew Simmons, 1932-1945; and Harry B. Rutherford, 1950-1965. The University of S.C. bought the property in 1974 and demolished the main building in 1975. (South Carolina Department of Archives and History)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 1, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 603 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 4, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.