Back last fall we were presented with a mystery. Fellow photographer Hank Myers had contributed a photograph of an old brick school to the SCIWAY.net South Carolina Picture Project. The project editor, Tara Bailey, had initially labeled the school as Shiloh Rosenwald School. After a bit of research, the three of us decided that it wasn’t a Rosenwald school, so Tara edited the photo entry to reflect that new information.
When Ken and I visited the location we had a couple of potential sites for the Rosenwald School. We checked those out, but couldn’t find any existing schools at those locations. Based on that information, the SCIWAY entry now says that the school is no longer extant.
…or is it?
One of our Facebook contacts posted a photograph of an unknown school. That always kicks me into discovery mode. I try to identify the school, if possible. This one, located in Oconee County not far from the brick Shiloh School, had the general shape of a Rosenwald School, but with some differences.
When I check the location and compared it with GNIS data, it was listed as “Queendale School”. However, it sits next to Shiloh Baptist Church. Ken and I headed back out that way and paid the school a visit.
While it has the general shape of a Rosenwald, it does lack some of the common features of the Nashville “Community School” designs, such as the tall windows to let in lots of light. I didn’t walk around to the back to see if the windows were different. I should have.
Two other schools in Oconee, Retreat School and Return School, are listed as Rosenwalds, yet have slight variations in architecture. Both of these sported hipped roofs, whereas the Nashville designs usually had gables. Retreat is shown below:
The back of the Retreat School doesn’t have the traditional row of tall windows, either, but it looks like these had been replaced.
The Fisk University Rosenwald Database does have a listing for Shiloh School, but the photograph is for a traditional Nashville two-teacher east-west design. Unfortunately, no location information accompanies the Fisk data. It’s possible that they used the wrong photo, but since it doesn’t match there is no way to tell if the Fisk entry is the same as the Shiloh-Queendale school or not.
Even as I was typing these I made another discover – this mystery school is NOT in Oconee County, but in Northern Anderson County. So, the Fisk listing I linked above is NOT the correct one. There is a listing for a Shiloh School in Anderson, but it still has a photo for a traditional Nashville design.
So, the mystery continues. There are four listings for schools named “Shiloh” in South Carolina according to the Fisk Database. There are the two in Oconee and Anderson Counties, one in Fairfield County, and one in Darlington County. Shiloh was a popular name for both churches, and many schools, especially early African American schools, were associated with those churches. Unless someone has more information, this school will remain a mystery.