Back to Old Cokesbury College and Hodges



Back in April, as previously written about, I went along with Tom Taylor down to Shoals Junction and other nearby communities, including Cokesbury and Hodges. In researching my April blog post, I discovered historic Old Cokesbury College would be open to the public on June 23rd and 24th as part of the Festival of Flowers, and I immediately made the decision to tolerate the heat and go back to tour the historic college. It would also give me an opportunity to look for the Southern Railway depot in Hodges I didn't know about during my last visit.

Old Cokesbury College

Old Cokesbury College, as I'll call it for simplicity's sake, is a historic building located in the community of Cokesbury, Greenwood County, South Carolina. From its construction in 1854 until 1874, the building was home to the Masonic Female College of South Carolina, sponsored by the Bascombe Lodge No. 90 of Free Mason. In 1874, long term financial difficulties forced the closure and sale of the college. In 1876, the South Carolina Methodist Conference bought the building and it became the home of the Cokesbury Conference School for boys. In 1882, the school became co-educational.  In 1918, the Methodist Conference closed the school and donated the building and property to the Cokesbury School District for use as a public school. When the public school closed in 1954, the building and property ownership reverted back to the Methodist Conference. Then the building sat vacant.

By 1967, the building had deteriorated so much that tearing the building down seemed likely. However, determined local residents organized to save and restore the building. In 1970, the college was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where it remains listed. In 1971, the Methodist Conference donated the restored building and property to Greenwood County. The Cokesbury Historical Commission currently manages the property for Greenwood County.

When we arrived last time, the gates were locked. This time when I arrived mid-morning, I found several parked cars, the gates open, some people wandering around the garden area, and others hanging out on the balcony.

The property is well-maintained, including this statue and fountain in the garden area.
Tasty food in that there basket. Anyway...

By the front door, the friendly attendant greeted everyone who came by.
On display were many old artifacts, not all from the Cokesbury area.
Going inside where it was nicely air-conditioned, I see a long narrow hallway with rooms off to each side. The inside is stocked with antique furniture donated over the years since restoration effort began in the late 1960s.
During the women's college era, rooms on the first floor were used for music and for recitations, such as this room:
In this room, a diploma from the women's college era hung on the wall. Nice!
Other rooms on the first floor were stocked with antiques of the era.

A school would have no place for most of these items, of course. But they're still interesting to look at.

The hall on the second floor was used as a chapel and an auditorium.
The pews in the photo were donated by Camp Creek Methodist Church, one of the oldest Methodist churches in Lancaster County, South Carolina.

The third floor is where the Masonic lodge held their meetings. No telling what secrets these walls have heard.

More photos are available from my Old Cokesbury College album on Google Photos.

After chatting with the friendly, knowledgeable folks out front a while, I headed over to Hodges to find a railroad depot.

Southern Railroad depot in Hodges

Hodges is a few minutes away from Old Cokesbury College. Hodges was originally known as Cokesbury Junction when the railroad came in 1852, then Cokesbury Depot, before assuming its current name a few years later in honor of one of the community's first residents, Confederate General George Washington Hodges. His home still stands just off Main Street.

I had already visited the Piedmont and Northern depot the last time I was in the area, and this time I wanted to visit the Southern Railroad depot. An unpublished 1926 Sanborn fire insurance map of Hodges shows both depots. The Piedmont and Northern depot is shown off of U.S. 178, where it still stands. The Southern Railroad depot is shown near the public square, but nothing is there now.

The Southern Railroad depot in town was either torn down or moved, because the depot currently standing is located near where S.C. 185, U.S. 178, and U.S. 25 all converge just south of town. This location is puts the depot well away from the Southern Railway line.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the depot building was the home of Jackson Station Rhythm and Blues Club, a popular bar and restaurant in its day. Flickr photographer Dave Anderson shared some interesting commentary on the club and later events with his photo of the former depot. Sadly, one of the bar's partners, Gerald Jackson, died in 2010.

The building is currently vacant and for sale. Anyone want to buy a former depot and popular nightclub?

Map and Wrapup

I've put together a map showing the location of the Old Cokesbury College in Cokesbury, and the former depots and abandoned railroads in Hodges.

View Old Cokesbury College and Hodges depots in a larger map


I consulted the booklet picked up at the college, Cokesbury Village: A Historical Perspective by the Cokesbury Historical & Recreation Commission, in preparing this post.

Comments

  1. Attending a Methodist church has given me the opportunity to learn some of the history of the church. I figured Cokesbury would be related, but didn't know the story to this building. As always, I appreciate your research!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article I live in abbeville but neat to see pictures of college inside.

    ReplyDelete

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