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Robert Fletcher Memorial School – McColl, South Carolina

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This now-vacant building in the Marlboro County town of McColl was built as a high school in 1920, though construction had begun two years earlier. The school was made of imported European brick and designed by architect Henry Dudley Harrall. It was named in honor of Robert Fletcher, who died in World War I on October 7, 1918. His body was relocated from France to McColl to be buried in the Fletcher family cemetery.

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Jackie Thompson of Irmo, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Fletchers of Marlboro County were a farming family whose ancestors relocated to rural South Carolina in 1816 by way of Virginia and North Carolina. Robert Fletcher’s father, William, and his uncle, Jesse Adams Fletcher, were prosperous farmers during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, known for their expansive acreage of farmland that at one time numbered 1,800 acres in Marlboro County and 2,100 acres in neighboring North Carolina. The family also operated a lucrative cotton seed oil mill and a sawmill.

Robert Fletcher Memorial School in McColl SC

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

After Robert Fletcher died of mustard gas poisoning during the Great War, his father and uncle wanted to honor him by opening a school for rural students that focused on both academic and agricultural education. The school was well-received by the people of Marlboro County, as it boasted not only a strong farming focus but also traditional studies and an impressive music department complete with an orchestra. The Fletcher brothers personally paid the teachers’ salaries during the school’s first years of operation until the public agreed to support it with taxes.

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Building a local school in Robert’s memory was fitting. Robert Fletcher had valued his own education, having attended the Pine Grove School, which once sat where the school bearing his name was built. Fletcher then attended Wofford College in Spartanburg before returning to his home to farm. In 1924 the Fletcher brothers attempted to convert the Robert Fletcher Memorial School into a college that would commemorate all South Carolinians lost in World War I. They offered to purchased additional land and add modern facilities to the school, but the plan was voted down by the state legislature.

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Robert Fletcher Memorial School operated as a public school from 1920 until 1985. It was consolidated with other local public schools in 1951. Today Marlboro County High School in Bennettsville serves all of the students in the county. The Fletcher School building was sold in 1989 for $15,000; it now stands in disrepair. The teacherage, or building that housed the teachers, was built the same year as the school and can be seen below. This teacherage also accommodated boarding students who attended the school from across the county. It was built next to the school and was also designed by Harrall.

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Much of the above information is attributed to Marlboro County resident Mattie Frank Carraway.

More Pictures of Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Fletcher School McColl

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher School

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Fletcher Memorial School McColl

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Johnna Hansen of Summerville, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Robert Fletcher Memorial School Info

Address: 1040 Piney Grove Church Road, McColl, SC 29570
GPS Coordinates: 34.699442, -79.586364

Robert Fletcher Memorial School Map

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9 Comments about Robert Fletcher Memorial School

Margery Hubbard BalloweNo Gravatar says:
September 4th, 2017 at 11:37 am

Yes, Fletcher Memorial was part of the McColl schools its last couple of decades. McColl schools were called McColl-Fletcher Memorial Schools when I attended school for 6th and 7th grades at “Fletcher” in the late 60’s. Mama taught there for many years. She was Principal of the school in the late 50’s when it was not part of the McColl schools and they had high school there. We all made special memories there.

carolyn mcraeNo Gravatar says:
September 2nd, 2017 at 10:58 pm

No words, it is a glory to know the history of this building. I hope they don’t tear it down. Make something useful out of it, maybe even a campground.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
September 1st, 2017 at 1:54 pm

We agree, it is an absolutely remarkable building!

Dianne EmanuelNo Gravatar says:
September 1st, 2017 at 1:39 pm

My father, Thomas A. Emanuel graduated from Fletcher School in its last graduating class. He often speaks of how beautiful the school was. I have toured the inside of the ruins and it is still obvious that much care and design went into the building.

ostgardNo Gravatar says:
August 31st, 2017 at 1:55 pm

I want to buy this if the structure is strong.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
September 2nd, 2017 at 2:13 pm

What a moving testimony to the importance of the past and how it represents the present, please do not apologize, we enjoyed every single word of that, thank you!

Sarah Stanton McCarterNo Gravatar says:
September 2nd, 2017 at 10:34 am

I believe that Fletcher Memorial’s physical placement, although not in the town of McColl proper, was in the McColl School District. Miss Mattie Frank Carraway can bear me out on this as most of us whom I know were always taught that this area was and is still known as Fletcher Community. Others who know the history include Ms. Buck Bethea, who is 92 and taught school, Margery Hubbard Ballowe and Hampton Hubbard whose mother, Ms. Mary Alma Hubbard taught English, and Mr. Oscar Fletcher’s daughter, Virginia Fletcher McCraw, I’ve always thought that it was quite a feat that the school was even constructed as you will note that in 1918 soldiers of World War I entered New York Harbor to make their ways home. With them, many carried the Spanish Influenza, and a pandemic of catastrophic proportions ensued. In Marlboro County, it spread like wildfire and my father, Col. Le Roy M. Stanton, said that almost every man in Tatum, SC and the area died. Black and white alike died as the Spanish Influenza was an equal opportunity killer. This included his father–my grandfather, James Alexander Stanton and my grandfather’s brother LeRoy Stanton, called “Doc”. They died on the same day, within hours of one another. “Old-timers” in Marlboro County still speak of it and tell the story. Uncle Doc was Mary Leroy Stanton Stillwell’s father and our cousin. With so little manpower available, the construction of Fletcher Memorial was a truly extraordinary accomplishment. A fitting tribute to Robert Fletcher, it’s construction made certain that although gone, he would not be forgotten. Forgive my verbosity, but your post took me back into times which are gone, but like Fletcher Memorial, gone but not forgotten. Sometimes we must continue to tell the story….. We may be the last ones who know it.

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
August 31st, 2017 at 4:16 pm

It’s considered McColl for mailing address purposes.

Phil WhittleNo Gravatar says:
August 31st, 2017 at 1:11 pm

In the town of McColl? That school is too far out in the country to be described as in town, in my opinion, just a suggestion. It is a shame it is in such bad shape. It appears to have been very well constructed.

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