The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Jan. 16, 1879 – “Rev. R. Lathan, School Commissioner of York County, has made a separate school district of the Town of Rock Hill, with trustees: A.E. Hutchison, W.L. Roddey and J.M. Ivy.”
Later on Jan. 30, 1879 the Enquirer reported – “Rock Hill Graded School to elect officers: Capt. A.E. Hutchison – Chairman, Wm. Whyte – Sec., Trustees: Rev. J.M. Boyd, F.H. Barber, A.D. Holler, J.V. McFadden, J.C. Sharpe, J.R. London, and L.M. Davis.”
In Aug. of 1886 the Yorkville Enquirer reported – “Prof. John C. Davidson delivered an address recently at Roddey Hall on the subject of the benefits of good schools. After the meeting a committee of seven was appointed to study the graded school system and to work toward erecting a suitable building.”
The Rock Hill Herald on June 16, 1887 – “The first meeting of the trustees of the graded school was held and they appointed a committee to complete the plans and specifications for the building. This committee consisted of: Capt. W.L. Roddey, W.S. Creighton, and the Rev. J.S. White. The entire board visited the grounds last week to locate the buildings.” Later on July 7, 1887 the Herald further reported: “The plans and specifications of the school building have been completed and are now in the hands of the contractors, who will submit bids at an early date.” (On July 28, 1887 the paper stated – “Mr. W.G. Adams has secured the contract for the erection of the graded school building. His bid was $4,950.”)
The Rock Hill Herald reported on May 5, 1887 – “A meeting was held at Roddey Hall concerning the proposed graded school.. It was chaired by the Rev. J.S. White. Those present appointed a committee to work on development of the school. Members are: J.S. White, A.E. Smith, Iredell Jones, W.L. Roddey, W.B. Wilson, Jr., J.C. Sharpe, W.S. Creighton, N.P. Alexander, A. Friedheim, J.Q. Adams, J.R. Neisler, R.T. Fewell, John Ratterree, William Frew, J.L. Moore, and T.A. Crawford.”
On May 19, 1887 the Herald reported supporting the idea of a graded school for Rock Hill, it described the Graded School in Marion, S.C. – “In a building which cost $5,500., built by private subscription. This is a brick building of two stories with a tin roof. The citizens of Marion pay a local tax which supports the local school with four teachers.”
The Herald reported on Aug. 11, 1887 – “The cornerstone of the RH Graded School will be laid on Aug. 19 with Masonic ceremonies.” Later on Aug. 25th the paper reported – “The cornerstone of the graded school was laid in a ceremony last Friday. The school began with agitation by the Rev. J.S. White to create a graded school in Rock Hill. The White Family donated two acres of land and an adjoining two acres was purchased. The building will cost approximately $5,000., and the home for the Supt., will cost about $2,000. The cornerstone contained copies of the Herald, the Charleston News and Courier, and the Yorkville Enquirer with stories about the school, a copy of the city business directory, and a catalogue of the Fort Mill High School. The cornerstone has the inscription: “Laid by J. Adger Smythe” the grand master of the S.C. Masons.”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on April 25, 1888 – “The trustees of the graded school at Rock Hill have secured the services of Prof. A.R. Banks of Fort Mill as Supt. The building of the residence for the Supt., has been commenced and will soon be completed.” Later on April 19th on 1888 – “…The building of a residence for the Supt. will begin soon. Mr. W.G. Adams has the contract. It will be a two story house with eight rooms and will be located on the western corner of the school lot costing about $1,900.”
Rock Hill Herald reported – Rock Hill Graded School: July 12, 1888: The Rock Hill Graded School will be opened on the first Monday in September under the leadership of Prof. A. R. Banks, with Mr. J. L. Douglass of Hampton County and Miss Emma Roach and one other teacher. The building has been completed and the desks will be placed in the classrooms soon. The building has eight rooms and is one of the largest and most attractive in the upstate. On the first floor are four large recitation rooms and an assembly room. The second floor has a large hall, stage, and two recitation rooms. The grounds include four acres. The residence of the Superintendent will be completed by the end of July. In the same issue was an advertisement listing the tuition and the following board members: Rev. J. S. White, W. L Roddey, W. B. Wilson, Jr., J. C. Sharpe, Iredell Jones, W. S. Creighton, and A. E. Smith.
July 26, 1888: The home for the Superintendent of the graded school is nearing completion. The cost will be $1,950. Miss Manassa Withers of Fort Mill will fill the vacant teaching position. On Aug. 30, 1888 the Herald further stated – “The RH Graded School has been supplied with 106 New Triumph Desks from the Andrews Man. Company of New York, along with eight recitation seats and four desks for teachers. All are of rock maple and cherry with feet of iron. The school has the capacity of 230 students. On Sept. 13 the paper continued – “The RH Graded School board has employed additional teachers: Ms. Mary Clarkson of Charlotte, and Ms. Annie Rawlinson of Yorkville as a music teacher.”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported Sept. 4, 1889 – “Opening exercises were held at the RH Graded School. Prof. A.R. Banks is the head and teachers are: J.L. Douglass, W.W. Lewis, Emma J. Roach, Mary S. Clarkson, M.J. Withers, and Annie K. Rawlinson in the music department.”
City Directories and History: Prior to the erection of the school, old private educational institutions operated in Rock Hill.
“The citizens of Rock Hill first heartily endorsed the proposition to establish such a school and then speedily set out to make it a reality. The heirs of Mrs. Ann White-Major A.H. White, the Reverend James S. White, Miss Mary White, and Mrs. A. R. Witherspoon gave two acres of land as a site for the new schoolhouse. This property was located in the rear of the residence of Captain E. R. Mills, and is the campus now occupied by Central School. A school district was set off and authority given for the erection of two buildings-one to be the school and the other a dwelling to be used by the school superintendent. Then, in 1888, the growing town issued its first bonds for the amount of $7,000., to be expended for the school building and the residence. As a happy climax to the whole undertaking, the Reverend James S. White donated one thousand dollars-a handsome sum in those days-to be used in furnishing the new classrooms. It was graciously and gratefully accepted. Mr. White also advanced sufficient money so that the building could go forward while legislation was secured to approve the bond issue. The schoolhouse was soon built and, on September 6, 1888, the first session of the new school was opened with a prayer by “the Father of Public Schools in Rock Hill,” Reverend James S. White. In the first year 140 pupils were enrolled; this grew to 400 in three years.”
(Information from: The City Without Cobwebs – Douglas S. Brown, 1953)
The Herald reported, July 30, 1887 – “That W.G. Adams has secured the contract for building the graded school with a bid of $4,950.” and on Aug. 13, 1888 – “The RH Graded School will open Monday with Prof. Banks as Supt., Mr. Douglas as
Assistant, and Mrs. Roach and Withers as teacher. The opening of the school will mark a new era in the history of the town of Rock Hill. The building is of superb structure and was built in view of the comfort and health of the people.” (There was $7,000 raised and the erection of the buildings was left to Rev. James S. Spratt’s wisdom and care. The school building was constructed at a cost of about $5,500.00, and the cost of the principal’s residence was about $2,000. The furniture for the school cost about $1,000. The first floor of the school building is divided into seven class rooms and the second floor is given up to a very large auditorium, well ventilated and completely furnished. – Charleston News and Courier, June 7, 1890) The article goes on to list the original school teachers at the school were: Prof. A.R. Banks, Principle, J.L. Dougas, W.W. Lewis, Ms. E.J. Roach, Ms. M. Withers, Ms. Mary Clarkson, and Ms. Anna Rawlinson.
The Board of Trustees for the school are: J.S. White, Chairman, Capt. W.L. Roddey, W.B. Wilson, Jr., A.E. Smith, J.C. Sharp, W.S. Creighton, and Iredall Jones.
James Spratt White reported in the RH Herald, on Nov. 22, 1941 the J.F. Bailey worked on the Central School’s roof.
The SC Architects: 1885 – 1935, Wells and Dalton, 1992 reported, “the architect Charles C. Hook designed an addition to Central School which was completed in 1913 at a cost of $17,800.”
The Herald contained an ad on Aug 21, 1890 for the Rock Hill Graded School. It stated, “the first term of this new institution will begin on the first Monday in Sept. it is under the management of Prof. A.R. Banks, the ad contains rates and offers boarding. Prof. W.W. Lewis, a graduate of the Citadel, will superintend the military and calisthenics department. The ad was signed by Rev. J.S. White, Pres., and A.E. Smith, Sec.”
The Yorkville Enquirer on July 1, 1891 reported – “Prof. Banks of the RH Graded School has withdrawn his resignation and will continue as Supt., with Miss S.E. Griffin and Miss Louise Beckham as teachers.”
The Enquirer reported on May 11, 1892 – “Mr. J.W. Thompson of Abbeville has been chosen to succeed Prof. A.R. Banks as Supt. of the Rock Hill Graded School. Ms. N.B. Walker of Charlotte will replace Ms. Mattie Ingold, who is going to the mission field.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 2, 1896 reported on the teaching staff at the school including: Prof. J.W. Thomson, Supt. and teachers, Walter Hall, J. Porter Hollis, Mattie B. Lide, S. Fannie Moore, Mannie E. Coggeshall, Louise Sherfessee, Claude E. Godfrey, and Emma J. Roach. The music teacher is Mary Hutchison Caldwell.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 6, 1902 – “The RH Graded School has opened with 340 students. There were 303 last year. The Supt. is Mr. (J. Colman) Cork.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 13, 1902 – “The graded school had an enrollment of 360 in grades 1-9, the Arcade – Victoria School had an enrollment of 74 students and the Manchester School had an enrollment of 36. The Winthrop Model School also has good attendance. The trustees of the Graded School are considering an additional wing on the school due to overcrowding.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on May 9, 1907 – “The City has agreed to sell to the school district all the property of the Rock Hill Graded School, including the Supt. residence. The property is bounded by East Black Street, Orange and Flint Street. The price is $7,000.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on Aug 10, 1908 – “Prof. J.C. Cork will let the contract for two rooms in the auditorium at the Central School for the High School Department.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on Dec. 21, 1908 – “Ms. Emma Roach, teacher of first grade at Rock Hill Graded School has resigned after having served over twenty years. The board has selected Ms Nettie Spratt of Chester to teach the first grade. She is a graduate of Winthrop College and has taught the primary dept. of Chester Graded Schools for three years.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 3, 1914 – “That the faculty of the Central School included, Ms. Claude Godfrey, Robert Wardlaw, E. Lucile Sales, Eunice Chaplin, Louse Fry, Janette Roddey, Alma Bowman, Annie Clare Hutchison, Mary Roach, Mary Gray Sandifer, Mary Thomson, and Belle Norris. Enrollment in the school was 476 student.”
The Fort Mill Times reported on Feb. 26, 1920 – Death of Prof. Alexander R. Banks, He died in Ridgeway SC of influenza. He was a native of Chester Co., and graduated from Davidson College in 1869. He taught at the Fort Mill Academy from 1875-88, organized the Rock Hill Graded School and was there from 1888-91, organized the Pres. High School in Rock Hill in 1891 and later taught in Kershaw, Lancaster, Anderson, Richland and Fairfield Counties. He was a Mason and Elder in the Pres. Church, he served on the State Board of Education for twenty years. Dr. Banks married Ms. Sallie A. McMullin of Alabama in 1875. Surviving children are: William Banks and John M. Banks of Columbia and Mrs. J. Allen Long of Abbeville. His sister is Mrs. Hattie Mack of Fort Mill. His father was the Rev. William Banks, pastor of the Pres. Church and his mother was Mary E. Harrington.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 4, 1925 – “That school enrollment has been announced for the fall term: High School (451), Jr. High School (234), Central School (388), Arcade-Victoria (102), Northside (350), Highland Park (72), Ebenezer Avenue (324), Kindergarten (54), Emmett Scott (420), Boyd Hill (114).”
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