Booker T. High buildings gone, but memories remain

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Decades have passed since the closing of Booker T. Washington High School, but the love for what many call not just a school but an institution is still very much alive.

"It was a place where you felt loved, where you felt challenged," said Joe Darby. "It's a place where academics as well as athletics as well as the arts where lifted up."

The school was once the heart of the black community in Columbia, a time when schools served as shelters from the darks of days of segregation and black educators gave children the belief that was anything was possible with enough hard work.

"It's the place that for many people gave them their start and gave them their confidence in life," said Darby.

The doors at the school opened in 1916 and gave way to some of the finest South Carolinians of our time, including Judge Matthew Perry, Terry Friday, and Fannie Phelps Adams.

Adams graduated in 1934 and is well known for her contributions to the youth in our city. A room in the auditorium is named in her honor.

"I could give what was inside of me and teachers helped me to see what I did not see and that was important," said Adams.

So it seems from Wheeler Hill to Edisto Court, the school was the heartbeat of an era.

But when the school closed down in 1974 and the complex was bought by the University of South Carolina, all of the school's original buildings were torn down except the auditorium.

The Booker T. Washington Foundation will host an open house at the school's auditorium which is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday June 29.

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