“African American students had limited access to books.”
City Directories and History: The Palmetto Library – Although library services were available to white citizens in Rock Hill as early as 1884, when the Rock Hill Library Association was established, African-American citizens had no access to a library. In 1932, the Rock Hill Public Library was relocated to Oakland Avenue to the building which had earlier served as the post office. In 1933, a committee headed by Rev. W. M. Parker campaigned for public support for a library for African-American citizens. An early library available to African-Americans was housed in a building
at Friendship College. The City Council and Rock Hill Library Board supported the effort to establish a public library. In 1936, the Palmetto Branch of the Rock Hill Library was created. It was originally located in Emmett Scott High School, with Mrs. Susan Bailey as librarian. The Palmetto Branch Library moved to its own building at 225 South Trade Street in December 1944. Located in a converted home, it provided library services in a convenient location to many African-American citizens. Mrs. Annie Cloud was the librarian. The Palmetto Library remained at this site until July 1968 when the building was demolished as part of the City’s urban renewal program.
Submitted and written by Dr. Cynthia Plair Roddey – 2014
The Rock Hill Herald on July 26, 1968 reported, “The old Palmetto Library was to be destroyed today. The former library was the last of the large frame structures in the Rock Hill Housing Authority’s clearing program for the civic center area. Gone also were also several hundred volumes of books remaining on the library shelves, unwanted by anyone and not worth the cost of recovery.”
The Rock Hill Herald reported on Sept. 26, 1933 – “Colored people of Rock Hill desiring to establish a library, headed by the Rev. W.M. Parker, carried their cause before the City Council last light and found that group sympathetic and willing to help. Friendship College is now serving as the repository for the Library, which is currently collecting books. The council referred the matter to J.W. O’Neal, chairman of the RH Public Library Board.”
Agurs Funeral Home – Arthur Lenn Agurs and Johnnie Mae Hughes Agurs moved to Rock Hill between 1930 and 1931 and opened Agurs Funeral Home in a converted house at 225 South Trade Street. Mr. Agurs was born near Smiths’ Turnout in southern York County and studied mortuary science in Pennsylvania. The funeral home was on the first floor and the family lived on the second floor. They had a living room and bedrooms but no kitchen. They would walk across the street to a neighbor’s’ house for meals. Mr. Charlie Ratchford was one of the assistant embalmers. About 1940, the family moved to Plainfield, New Jersey. The funeral home was closed, but the equipment was given to Mr. A. D. Chisolm, who had trained with the Agurs and who opened Chisolm Funeral Home.
Interview with Gloria Agurs, June 14, 1912.
Also see the Urban Renewal image for a 1950’s look at the area.
Click HOME to return to the numbered site tour of Rock Hill’s downtown.
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