All that remains of the Fountain Inn Colored School campus is this structure, built in 1935 as a teacherage. In 1925, trustees of the Fountain Inn 3-B School District in Greenville County purchased nearly five acres of land to establish a school for local black children; construction on buildings for the school began a few years later. The first building in the school complex was a grade school built between 1927 and 1928 as a Rosenwald School. Rosenwald Schools were schools built for black students between 1917 and 1932 with financial support from Julius Rosenwald, then president of Sears and Roebuck. Local communities also contributed a significant portion of the funding.
The grade school was completed for $7,200. The Rosenwald Fund contributed $1,200 towards the project, while the African-American community donated $3,800 and the white community provided $2,200. Just two years later, in 1930, another three-room school house was built, without Rosenwald funding, adjacent to the grade school; this was a high school. In 1935 the building seen here was added to the campus to house the teachers.
Though not technically a Rosenwald school, the teacherage followed familiar Rosenwald design patterns. The 1,140-square-foot building includes a dining room, living room, and bedroom in the front and a bathroom, two more bedrooms, and closets in the rear. Both the front and back of the house had separate porches and entrances. By the 1940s the teacherage was also used for housing the school’s principal.
In 1936 the Fountain Inn Colored School, also called the Fountain Inn Negro School, received the highest score in South Carolina for rural black schools for its design and environment. Rosenwald Schools were built with environmental elements such as lighting and ventilation in mind, and the Fountain Inn Colored School was commended for its land, soil quality, drainage, and building design. A Faith Cabin Library was later added to the school grounds as well as a gymnasium in 1942, the latter of which was named the Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates Gymnasium in honor of the famous tap dancer and Fountain Inn native who helped raise money for the building. It was the first gym to be included on the campus of a black school in this part of South Carolina.
The Fountain Inn Colored High School operated until it was consolidated with other area schools in 1954. The grade school stayed open until the early 1960s. The teacherage was continuously used to house faculty and administrators of the school until 1961. At that time, the building became a private residence. The other buildings from the Fountain Inn Colored School have been demolished.
The Fountain Inn Colored School is listed in the National Register as the Fountain Inn Principal’s House and Teacherage:
The Fountain Inn Principal’s House and Teacherage, built in 1935, is significant for its historical association with the Fountain Inn Negro School and African-American history in Fountain Inn. The house is the only remaining building that is historically associated with the Fountain Inn Negro School complex, comprised of the grade school built in 1928, a high school built in 1930, a library, and the Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates Gymnasium, built in 1942. The school and its appurtenant buildings served the educational needs of the Fountain Inn’s African American community until the students of this community were enrolled in Fountain Inn High School in the 1960s. The teacherage was constructed originally as a home for teachers that provided educational instruction for African Americans in Fountain Inn, and by the 1940s housed teachers and the principal and his family. Its separate entrance at the building’s southwest corner accessed the kitchen and accommodated home economics classes. These buildings were designed to offer comfortable domestic amenities like front corner porches and modern indoor bathrooms, but they were also meant to serve as instructional facilities. The house is nearly identical to Plan No. 301 (“Teachers Home for Community Schools”) for teacherages supported by the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Although this house was constructed after the end of the Rosenwald Fund school program, its design is consistent with plans frequently used for Rosenwald schools and related buildings.
Reflections on the Fountain Inn Colored School
We are grateful to contributor Charles Payne of Rock Hill, who took the photos on this page and also sent this helpful information: “Fountain Inn Colored School, a complex of several buildings built between 1928 to 1942, consisted of a framed seven-room elementary school for grades 1-7 which was a Rosenwald school, a three-room high school for grades 8-11 built in 1930, and a teacherage built in 1935 for principal Gerard A. Anderson. By 1942 the complex included a library, gymnasium, and three new classrooms. The tescherage is the only building standing today; the others were demolished in 2000. The high school closed in 1954,
followed by the elementary school in 1960.”