This unassuming frame structure on the outskirts of Mayesville, in the community of Dabbs Crossroads, was used to educate African-Americans for roughly 70 years. It was first called the Goodwill Day School and later the Goodwill Parochial School. Today it serves as the Goodwill Cultural Center.
After the Civil War, black members of the nearby Salem-Black River Presbyterian Church in Sumter asked to form their own congregation. The newly-freed slaves, who are said to have “parted in goodwill,” established Goodwill Presbyterian two miles away on property given by Hamilton Gaillard Witherspoon, the owner of nearby Coldstream Plantation. By 1868 the new church, along with the Committee on Freedman of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., had built an adjacent school for local elementary and high school students.
In 1890, during the height of Reconstruction, G.W. and A.M. McBride granted the church 3.74 acres for a new building and manse. That structure, shown here, served the community until 1960. It was funded primarily by the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. until 1933. During the Depression, the board was forced to cease its support of 36 parochial schools in South Carolina, including Goodwill.
The congregation and community carried on, however, and Goodwill continued to operate until the 1960-61 school year, when Goodwill merged with Eastern School, a black public school in Sumter County School District 2.
The old building now stands as a significant example of the development of African-American education in South Carolina. The school’s roof was damaged in Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from Save America’s Treasures, administered by the National Park Service, the building is in the process of being preserved. The first floor is now used as a meeting space for community events.
The Goodwill Parochial School is listed in the National Register:
(Goodwill Day School) Goodwill Parochial School, a late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century parochial school for African Americans in Sumter County, was sponsored and supported by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. until 1933 and then by Goodwill Presbyterian Church, which stands nearby, until 1960. At this time it was consolidated with Eastern School, a black public school. The school building, built ca. 1890, is significant as a scarce and relatively intact example of late nineteenth-century vernacular architecture associated with the African American community and with the development of African American education in South Carolina. The school was established during Reconstruction. By 1872, the Committee on Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. reported that Goodwill, with over 350 students, was one of the three “most active” parochial schools supported by the church in South Carolina. The building itself is a two-story, lateral gable building sheathed in weatherboard and set upon a brick pier foundation. Its main block contains a central open boxed gabled pavilion with beaded board arranged in a chevron pattern within the gable. Within each end gable is a large lozenge shaped louvered vent. Its roof is V-crimp metal clad, pierced by two interior chimneys. Listed in the National Register May 30, 1997.