For Immediate Release:
Oct. 24, 2023

Marie Cheek
Community Relations Coordinator
Culture & Heritage Museums

Dedication ceremony for South Carolina Historical Marker commemorates Durkee/Chisholm Training Institute

The historical marker honors a legacy of advocacy for education of African Americans during the era of racial restrictions and segregation in S.C. public schools

ROCK HILL, S.C. –  A dedication ceremony for the South Carolina Historical Marker commemorating the Durkee/Chisholm Training Institute takes place on Nov. 14 at 11 a.m. at 1442 Saluda Street.  Founded in 1932 by Rock Hill native William Mason Chisholm, the African American vocational school was originally called the Durkee Training Institute, named for Dr. J. Stanley Durkee, and was renamed the Chisholm Training Institute in 1951.  The school was tuition free and served African Americans in the Rock Hill community and its rural areas. At its height, the school had an enrollment of 400 students of all ages.

The South Carolina Historical Marker is sponsored by Culture & Heritage Museums and funded by York County through the advocacy of council member Bump Roddey. CHM historian Zach Lemhouse details the historical significance of the Durkee/Chisholm Training Institute and Chisholm’s legacy in a booklet to be distributed at the marker dedication ceremony.  Lemhouse also worked with Pam Chisholm, a descendant of William Mason Chisholm, who provided feedback on the information recorded on the marker and in the booklet.

Culture & Heritage Museums’ Historical Marker Dedication booklet describes William Mason Chisholm as a vocal proponent of African American education who traveled throughout the country presenting lectures on the “abhorrent policy of segregation.” Chisholm purchased property near the “Saluda Highway and Mt. Holly intersection” to build a formal learning facility for local African Americans. At the Rock Hill location, Chisholm’s first construction was a German-style stone structure named Howard Hall. Chisholm continued to expand the campus to include a four-acre playground, four stone buildings, six cottages, and a 17th century-French-style stone building with a three-story tower that housed domestic science classes and a beauty school. The last structure Chisholm erected, Clee Hall, included a recreation space and a library; later, in the early 1960s, the building housed the Road Side Inn and a private residence. After Chisholm’s death in 1962, the school closed, the property fell into disrepair and was razed in 1967. Currently, the site is located on private property.

In addition to the historical marker dedication ceremony, William Mason Chisholm, along with two other Rock Hill natives, will be recognized as 2023 Freedom Walkway Local Heroes with plaques erected in their honor on the public walkway followed by a reception organized by the City of Rock Hill.

WHAT: Dedication ceremony for the South Carolina Historical Marker commemorating the Durkee/Chisholm Training Institute

WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 11 a.m.

WHERE: 1442 Saluda Street, Rock Hill, S.C. 29730

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