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Withers Building – Rock Hill, South Carolina


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This Gothic Revival building on the campus of Winthrop University in Rock Hill is the home of the Richard W. Riley College of Education. The college is a fitting occupant of the historic building, which was added to the campus in 1912 to serve as the Winthrop Training School for Teachers. Winthrop University was founded in 1886 as the Winthrop Training School, initially located in Columbia. The school relocated to Rock Hill in 1895 and was renamed Winthrop College, the South Carolina College for Women. Now called Winthrop University, the school, which is coeducational, offers numerous undergraduate and graduate degrees while continuing to be renowned for its education program.

Withers Building

Kimberly Huntley of Taylors, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

When Winthrop moved to Rock Hill, students met in the main building now known as Tillman Hall. As the student body increased, the college needed more space and in 1910 acquired the former Presbyterian High School, built in 1891. In 1912 a new building (seen here) was constructed in front of the Presbyterian High School to accommodate the rapdily-growing college. It was designed by Atlanta architectural firm Edwards and Sayer and funded by both the state and private groups such as the Carnegie Foundation, the Peabody Fund, and J.P. Morgan. A gymnasium was added to the rear of the former Presbyterian High School in 1952; the gym was renovated in 1996 as the Student Activity Center. In 1960 the Women’s Training School was renamed the Withers Building in honor of Sarah Withers, an alumna and former principal of the school. The 1912 building was attached to the former Presbyterian High School by a brick connector in 1972; the connector was designed by Rock Hill resident Paula Treder.

The Withers Building is listed in the National Register:

(Winthrop Training School) The Withers Building on the Winthrop College campus, formerly the main building of the Winthrop Training School, was first built in 1891 as the Presbyterian High School. Its most architecturally significant portion was added in 1912-13 after the design of Edwards and Sayward, architects of Atlanta, and was further enlarged in 1952 with the addition of a gymnasium. The Withers Building is architecturally significant for its fine Gothic Revival design and historically significant for its association with Winthrop College, one of the prime innovators in teaching methods and teacher training in the Southeast. The architects drew inspiration from the fifteenth and sixteenth century Gothic buildings of England, such as Hampton Court Palace and St. John’s College, Cambridge, for the design of the Withers Building. The composition of the building, with four story central tower and end pavilions, as well as the details of the brickwork and of the terracotta ornament, are drawn from these Tudor precedents. The main entrance to the building, with its four-centered arch, and the four octagonal turrets at the corners of the main tower, is embellished with high quality terracotta sculpture. The Withers Building is located on the highest eminence in Rock Hill and was designed to take full advantage of this elevation. The building was renamed for Sarah Withers, alumna and former principal, in 1960.


Withers Building Info


Address: 611 Myrtle Drive, Rock Hill, SC 29733
GPS Coordinates: 34.941323,-81.028598


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