6679b25101b5bcb3bbe21bb4 Benson School South Carollina

University of South Carolina is restoring school that served Blacks in the segregation era

June 24, 2024
The Benson Elementary School was built in the 1950s in Columbia and enabled the state to avoid racial integration of public schools.

The buildings that housed the Florence C. Benson Elementary School buildings in Columbia, South Carolina, will undergo a restoration after the University of South Carolina received a $4.25 million grant from the National Park Service (NPS).

WLTX-TV reports that the facilities were built in the 1950s as an "equalization school" to maintain the state government's "separate but equal" school system to avoid racial integration. Florence C. Benson Elementary was originally known as Wheeler Hill Elementary and the Benson Building. The school closed in 1975 and the buildings were acquired by the university in 1978. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 as a last remnant of the Black residential area in downtown Columbia.

With the grant money, the university plans to 

  • Replace the roof and restore other exterior envelope components 
  • Correct site drainage deficiencies
  • Install sprinkler and fire alarm systems
  • Renovate restrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Replace worn interior finishes such as ceilings, lighting, carpet, and paint
About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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