City Directories and History: Sept. 10, 1902 the Herald reported, Prof. M.R. Zeigler of Copes, S.C. will have charge of the Ebenezer (High School), this term. The school opened Monday. Prof. Zeigler is boarding at the home of Joe N. Steele. (Joe Steele’s home was in the Ebenezer Community west of Rock Hill). *** Note that the Ebenezer School in many respects replaced the earlier Pinopolis School at #340 Ebenezer, one of the city’s earliest school buildings.
The Herald reported on July 29, 1919 – “That Rock Hill School Trustees have purchased the residence of Mrs. M.A. Moore and the Dillingham property (March 7, 1896 – Mr. W.C. Martin recently sold in Oakland a lot opposite that of Mrs. Dillingham for $200.), adjacent to the Moore house on Ebenezer Avenue as the site of a new school. The Moore house may be sold and moved or it may become a teacherage. Chairman of the School Board is Myron Sandifer and plans are being drawn by A.D. Gilchrist.”
Alfred D. Gilchrist was born and educated in Manchester, England and came to America in 1900. In 1912 he arrived in Rock Hill and began practicing architecture. Several building can be attributed to him; Ebenezer School – 1921, Stevenson Theater, Oakland Avenue Pres. Church, and several buildings at Winthrop University. His son, William P. Gilchrist worked as a designer and draftsman with the firm. Following WWII, Gilchrist associated with W. Lewis Cook in the firm Gilchrist and Cook. That firm had buildings including: Woodland Un. Methodist Church, Park Baptist Church and homes and schools. Ms. Bessie L. Garrison, Rock Hill Historical Research Papers #10 – 1952.
EBENEZER AVENUE REMEMBERED by Cecil Pruette
(This article appeared in The Herald on January 12, 2002 and Mr. Pruette has given us permission to reprint it. The time period covered is from the late 1930s up into the 1950s. In April of this year, 2002, Rock Hill is celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary. Ebenezer Avenue was originally the road to the village of Ebenezer which was much older than Rock Hill. Today, Ebenezer is inside the city limits of Rock Hill. Mr. Pruette’s family lived close lived two blocks from downtown Rock Hill.)
Our family moved to 223 Ebenezer Avenue when I was about a year old. Our house was two down and across the street from Ebenezer Grammar School. Our neighborhood was very stable. It was a rare occasion when someone relocated. Since most of the people worked in the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company, known to all as the Bleachery, vacations were limited to the week that the plant shut down. That was usually the Fourth of July week.
The Helms family lived at the corner of Wilson and Ebenezer. Between them and the Hudspeth’s was a vacant lot where we played as pre-school children. Next to the Hudspeth family lived the Ligons. Bob Ligon and Clyde Hudspeth had an annual gardening contest, trying to see who could grow the biggest tomatoes first. Our house was next and then the Laneys. The Hughes family lived next to the Laneys.They also had a narrow grocery store in one side of their house. Just about everyone on the street ran a ‘tab’ at the little store. They paid their bills at the store when they were paid by the Bleachery. The Abernathy family ran the store after Mrs. Hughes retired. Mr. Abernathy gave me my first job delivering groceries on a bicycle with a big basket on the front. I made $5 a week for work each afternoon after school and all day Saturday.The Barnetts lived next to the store. The last house at the corner of Laurel and Ebenezer was a duplex. Cecil and Maggie Buis lived on one side, and Jimmy Nunn’s family occupied the other side.
Across the street from the Helms’ on the other side of the street, Bob and Sadie Sturgis lived. Their house actually faced Wilson Street. The first house facing Ebenezer belonged to Nell and Miriner Pickett. They were sisters who worked at the Bleachery. They loved baseball. Anytime my father couldn’t take me to the Rock Hill Chief’s game, they would let me ride in their Ford Coupe. It had a fold-out back seat also known as a rumble seat. When the Pickett sisters built a home and moved away, the Adams family moved in. This was our introduction to Whitey Adams. The Threatt family lived next door. Mr. Threatt was a printer in the Bleachery, and the three children attended Winthrop Training School. They were the only ones from our neighborhood who didn’t attend Ebenezer [School]. The Moon family lived next door, and then Mrs. Dozier’s boarding house. She had a chicken house with a couple of hundred laying hens. The chicken house was adjacent to the school building. That comprised our 200 block of Ebenezer Avenue. The two common denominators were the Bleachery and the school. The Bleachery provided the livelihood and the school the activity center The neighborhood was safe anyone locked their doors. We didn’t even have locks on the back doors. We watched out for each other. Strangers were easily spotted.
Our first years were pent just about entirely on our block. Kindergarten was the exception. It was one block over and across the railroad tracks. The Kindergarten building was on the “Cutter Mill” hill. We played in the lot between the Helms’ and Hudspeth’s , on the railroad embankment or in the street. Traffic was scarce and traveled at a low speed. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine, March 2002)
The Main Playground
After we started to school, the school yard was the main playground. The school yard was our safe place. It had no fences around it so we could come and go as we chose. We played baseball year round. Times weren’t as good then as they are now. We played with cracked bats, but a roll of electrical tape did wonders. Most of the balls we played with also had tape to hold the cover together. But we had fun. When one of the gang got a new bat, ball or glove for Christmas or a birthday, we all gathered at the school ground to check it out. But we weren’t always fortunate enough to have a ball and bat. Then we improvised.
Whitey Adams was good at making up games. We played with half a hollow rubber ball. Using a broom handle for a bat, it was like hitting a wicked curve ball. Then we played with a Carnation or Pet milk can (small size). After it was hit a few times, it became tricky to catch.
Another game we perfected was what we called “peggy.” That was because it was played with two wooden pegs. We would lay the two pegs on the ground, one across the other. Then, with a broom handle or stick, we tapped the top peg, making it flip up into the air. Then you hit it with a stick. We had several sets of scoring schemes and rules.
Our school yard was our haven. We played games in the summer even after dark. We didn’t know about kidnapping or molesting. We didn’t know anything about drugs. We were late in our teens when a couple of the guys started smoking, and it was a real shock when one them drank a beer.
Ebenezer School had grades one through eight. Our rivals were Central and Northside, but we didn’t intermingle much. The bus stop for Ebenezer Avenue was the big oak tree in front of the school on the street. Again, we didn’t worry about guns or violence. Maybe a fist fight once in a while.
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