Spotlight On: Mayo School

Mayo High Colored

From “Introduction: A History of Mayo School”

About the year 1890, public education in Darlington County was started for African-Americans. One of the early buildings which the state and county used for education of African-Americans was located on Pearl Street in front of the old Charles estate, now Darlington Motel. Later in the year of 1890, the land was purchased by the school board and Mayo School became more of a reality.

According to the Darlington News on August 29, 1889, Rev. A.D. Mayo, a “friend of higher education in the South,” aroused great interest locally when he came here and spoke from Boston. As one of the main individuals in the establishment of the school, it was named for him.

A building of four very spacious rooms with large halls diving two rooms on either side was constructed about 1890 on the land purchased by the school board. All school work, elementary and high school, was done in this building. The school remained on this site until 1914.

When the school was moved from this site in 1914, a new building was constructed in the block between Jessamine and Chestnut Streets facing Pine Street. There were twelve classrooms and an auditorium in this building. This building later burned and a new brick building of 24 rooms was constructed on Chestnut Street where, at one time, there sat a plant. On February 8, 1947, this 24 room building was destroyed by fire. Plans were begun for a new building during which time classes continued in various public buildings and churches of the city.

In 1949, Mayo was rebuilt, consisting of 19 classrooms. After the completion of this new building, Mayo grew continually. To keep abreast of the increased enrollment, the I.P. Brockington and J.L. Cain Elementary Schools were constructed in 1952. Pine Junior High School was added to the city school system in 1963. Around this time, Mayo High School had a Library Building consisting of a well-equipped library and four additional classrooms, a gymnasium, an Industrial Arts building with departments for Carpentry and Vocational Agriculture, Home Economics Demonstration, and other temporary framed buildings.

The late R.W. Boyd was the first chairman of the Board of Trustees; he, with the aid of his fellow members, did much work in helping establish the present school system.

Former principals of Mayo were Professors Gordan, Cobb, Cotton, Andrews, Cain, and Wiley.

Mayo High School was the first of three (Mayo, Booker Washington, and Sims High) African-American public high schools in South Carolina to be accredited by the State Department of Education during the early 1920s.

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