Brainerd Institute | Olde English District

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Brainerd Institute

115 Marquis St.
Chester, SC 29706
(803) 519-7535 or (803) 899-4391

This was one of several educational institutions for freed slaves and their children started by the Board of Missions for Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church USA. Formally organized in 1868, Brainerd merged with Fairfield Institute (Winnsboro) in 1888. Brainerd was a feeder school for many colleges, including Benedict College and Johnson C. Smith University. The last class graduated in 1939. Today one building, Kumler Hall, remains on the 18-acre campus. In the late 1990s, actress Phylicia Rashad and her sister, dancer Debbie Allen answered the call for support. Rashad purchased the property in honor of their mother, Vivian Ayers Allen, who was in its last graduating class. Both Rashad and Allen continue to assist in programming and fundraising for the site now being preserved for the establishment of a cultural center. On the National Register of Historical Places.