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Historic African American school site to be excavated

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Beginning this week, a team of students at the College of Charleston will be excavating the site that used to be home to an African American schoolhouse in Mount Pleasant.

The archaeology students will be excavating the site where the Long Point School used to stand in Mount Pleasant.

The schoolhouse was built in 1904, when no schools were available to African American children.

“This is right after Reconstruction that our people in the countryside was able to have a school to go to,” said Joseph Palmer, a former student at the school. “Just the thought of that to me is so powerful.”

The school served the community from 1904 to 1953. The building remained at the site until 2018.

Through archeology, the team of students will be looking to find out about life in the earlier days of the school, like what they ate, what toys they were using, and what types of desks they used. They’ll be looking for marbles, jacks, learning materials, and anything that could give a glimpse into day-to-day life at the school.

Grant Gilmore, the director of the Historical Preservation and Community Planning Program at the College of Charleston, said this is only the third schoolhouse like this in the country that has been excavated.

“People might wonder, why are we excavating on a school site? Well, in this particular instance, it’s an African American school, which there are very few documentary records,” Gilmore said. “So, archeology, as with much of African American history, is one of the only ways that we can get it at trying to find out what was going on here, what was day-to-day life like.”

Gilmore said it’s their last and only chance to recover this material record of the people who went to school here because this site is going to be developed.

Gilmore also said they are encouraging people who attended that school to come visit the site. The team will be out on the site Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until June 2.

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