Beech Island in Aiken County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Downer Institute & School / Downer School, 1924–1986
Downer Institute & School
Downer Institute, founded in 1843, was originally located 1.5 mi. NE of this site and operated until 1865. It was named for benefactor Alexander Downer (1752–1820), whose will established an orphanage and school at Beech Island. By 1898 the General Assembly, at the request of Aiken County citizens, reestablished Downer School for the community at large; the school reopened in 1899.
By Mike Stroud, July 2008
1. Downer Institute & School Marker
Downer School, 1924–1986
Downer Elementary School, successor to the Downer Institute, stood here 1924–1950 and 1952–1986. A one-story school built here in 1924 replaced a two-story school constructed ¼ mi. SW in 1899, which burned in 1923–24. It burned in 1950 and was replaced by a second one-story school built in 1952, which served the Beech Island community until Downer Elementary School closed in 1986.
Erected 2000 by The Downer Fund Trustees. (Marker Number 2–18.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Education • Notable Places. A significant historical year for this entry is 1843.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
2. Downer School, 1924–1986 Marker
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33° 25.373′ N, 81° 51.643′ W. Marker is in Beech Island, South Carolina, in Aiken County. Marker is on Williston Road (U.S. 278) near Hammond Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Beech Island SC 29842, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Historic Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Redcliffe Plantation (approx. 0.6 miles away); Beech Island Baptist Church (approx. 0.7 miles away); Silver Bluff Baptist Church (approx. 2 miles away); Savannah Town / Fort Moore (approx. 3.1 miles away); Jefferson High School / Rev. Austin Jefferson, Sr. (approx. 5.1 miles away); Storm Branch Baptist Church (approx. 5.3 miles away); Jacksonville School / Jacksonville Lodge (approx. 5.4 miles away); Signal Corps Aviation School (approx. 5½ miles away in Georgia); Home of Governor Telfair (approx. 6 miles away in Georgia). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Beech Island.
1. The Downer Institute
Another charitable school, while not so old as the preceding, was founded by Alexander Downer, an Englishman, in 1818. He was a member of the " Seceders," and the following account of the management of the fund is given by the present custodian, Mr. E.S. Hammond:
"Mr. Alexander Downer, I have been told, was an
Englishman, who came to this country very young, prior to the Revolutionary War. Two clauses from his will furnish somewhat of his history, as well as explain his intentions: 'I give and bequeath to such of my blood relations as can prove themselves so one hundred cents each, if called for in due lime. Having been myself an orphan and having received a partial education at the Orphan House in Georgia, by which I have learned how to estimate the value of an education, and by which I have been able to obtain a sufficiency to support myself, my wife, and seven orphan children which I have raised, I do now feel an inclination and am willing to dispose of the balance of my estate for the benefit of the orphans of Edgefield District.' To this end he left three hundred acres of land and the proceeds from the disposal of twelve negroes and the balance of Impersonal estate to the establishing a school for orphans under fourteen years of age, one-fourth to be taken from Richmond County, Ga., and the balance from Edgefield District. About 1846 a school was established, the fund, though it had met several mishaps, having accumulated to about $20,000, in addition to a fine institute building, and about fifty acres of land, which continued in successful operation until interrupted by the War. Fifty orphans enjoyed its benefit during that period. The close of the War found the treasurer and securities,
By Mike Stroud, 2008
3. Downer Institute & School / Downer School, 1924–1986 MarkerLooking east on US 278 (Williston Rd)
who were gentlemen of large wealth, insolvent, as were also all those who had received loans of the institute funds; the building was in need of repairs. Owing to the condition of affairs during the period of reconstruction, no inquiries were made or steps taken to secure any assets there might be. In 1878 the Legislature appointed a referee to look into the affairs of the fund and adjust them to the best advantage that could be, which adjustment has only this year been brought to a close, the fund at this time amounting to about $6,500." (Source: Contributions to American Educational History, Volume 4 edited by Herbert Baxter Adams (1889) pg. 16.)
By Mike Stroud, 2008
4. Area of the Downer Institute & School
Stone tablet lists names of the Downer Institute Trustees and of the Building Committee. Remains of the old foundation can be seen in backround.
— Submitted January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 6, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 2,126 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 6, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.