South Carolina Education - Lee County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1902

Lee County

Bishopville
 

On December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish a new special school district in the town of Bishopville, in Sumter County, named five (5) trustees, and authorized voters to decided upon an additional special school tax not to exceed four (4) mills on real and personal property.

[Note - when the school district was created, the town of Bishopville was in Sumter County. In 1902, Bishopville was the county seat of Lee County.]

On December 18, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the trustees of the Bishopville Graded School District to issue bonds or to obtain a mortgage to purchase real estate, consisting of a lot or lots, and building or buildings thereon, in said school district, suitable for the establishment and maintenance of a graded school or graded schools for and in said school district.

[Note - when this Act was passed, the town of Bishopville was in Sumter County. In 1902, Bishopville was the county seat of Lee County.]

 
 
 
 
 

Dennis High School, built in 1936, was the first high school for African-American students in Lee County. Built on land donated by philanthropist Rebecca Dennis, it was named in her honor. This school was originally intended as an elementary school, but when the old elementary school burned shortly before this school opened it became both an elementary school and high school. It was the only black high school in Lee County for several years.

The auditorium here was a significant social center for blacks throughout Lee County. In 1948, when a new Dennis High School opened, this became Dennis Elementary School. In 1954, a state program to equalize funding for black and white schools built a new Dennis High and Elementary School. The original Dennis High School was renovated and served as Dennis Primary School until it closed in 1970. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

This high school, built in 1936, is an excellent example of a Colonial Revival school built by the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal program of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Designed by architect Henry Dudley Harrall (1878-1959) of Bennettsville, it was built and furnished for $71,000 and was described as “one of the most modern school plants in the state” when it was completed.

The high school featured sixteen large classrooms and a combination gymnasium and auditorium. Its first graduating class was in 1937. The school included grades 8-11 until 1947, when it added grade 12. It was expanded in 1956, 1965, and 1986 before closing in 2000 when a new high school was built south of town. This school was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

 
 
 
 
 


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