Barnes: St Stephen Historical Marker dedicated

The Historical Marker is unveiled on Sept. 28 to mark the former St. Stephen High School for White Students.

At 10 a.m., Sept. 28, members of the Berkeley County Historical Society, led by President Bettye Shealy, along with Elizabeth (Libba) Carol, who facilitated the maker’s dedication, St. Stephen Mayor, John Rivers, other town officials, House District 102 Representative Joseph Jefferson, Barbara Kibler Phillips, daughter of the late J. O. Kibler, Principal/Superintendent of St. Stephen High School, former instructors and attendees of the school, and Rev. Dr. Brian Williams, gathered, along with numerous onlookers, on the grounds of what was once, St. Stephen High School for White Students, located at 113 Ravenell Dr., to dedicate a historical marker in memory of the school.

The current building was built 1928-29 and designed by Florence-based architect Leon McDuff Hicks. Bricks used in the building process were made locally at the brickyard owned by Walker R. Funk.

Construction was part of a state-wide movement to consolidate rural schools into larger, regional schools with bus service available to students. St. Stephen High School was the first public High School for white students in the town of St. Stephen.

In 1930, the school complex was completed with the addition of an agriculture building and an athletic field house.

In 1959 the field house was converted into the first public library for the area. St. Stephen High School remained segregated throughout its time as a high school (1928-56).

It then became an elementary school for white students, 1957-70. The facility also served as an integrated early education center for St. Stephen Students, and as the Thomas Myers St. Stephen Head Start Center, prior to its conversion again in 2013, as part of the Berkeley County Library System.

Dedication of the historic marker began with the Presentation of Colors by Timberland High School’s JROTC Honor Guard, and the singing of the National Anthem by Mary VanWyk. The Rev. Dr. Brian Williams, Pastor, Greater Bethel AME, Kingstree, Berkeley County resident and Timberland High School Instructor, delivered the prayer. A brief history of the school and its transition history was presented by Elizabeth (Libba) Carroll. Remarks were then given by Rep. Joseph Jefferson, Jr., House District 102, Betty Shealy, President, Berkeley County Historical Society, and St. Stephen Mayor John Rivers. The Marker was unveiled by Barbara Kibler Phillips, daughter of the late J. O. Kibler, Principal/Superintendent of St. Stephen High School, along with former school instructors and attendees. The program closed with prayer from Rev. Dr. Williams. Program participants and attendees were invited to continue the historic event with refreshments in the St. Stephen History Room. A room filled with historic materials (clothing, articles, items, pictures, furniture, books, trophies, etc.) from the far past. A truly enlightening place to view as delightful refreshments were enjoyed.

Editor’s Note: The above is rewritten from a previous article to provide clarification.

Send items of interest to Yvonne Barnes, 1458 Colonel Maham Dr., Pineville, SC 29468. Or ybarnes@homesc.com.