Bettis Academy and Junior College
Bettis Academy and Junior College, established in 1881 and closed in 1952, is significant for its role in the primary, secondary, and higher education of African Americans in what is now Edgefield, Aiken, Greenwood, and Saluda Counties from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. During this period black education was neglected by many of the public and private institutions in South Carolina. Alexander Bettis (1836-1895), founder of Bettis Academy, was born a slave on a nearby Edgefield District plantation owned by a Widow Jones and worked as an overseer and sawmill manager during the Civil War. In 1868, after the local Baptist association refused to ordain him, Bettis and a group of seventeen other free blacks, helped by three ministers affiliated with the association, organized Mt. Canaan Baptist Church. Bettis Academy was an outgrowth of the Mt. Canaan Education Association, founded in 1880 by Bettis, other ordained ministers, and representatives of various black Baptist churches in the area. The complex, once a campus of fourteen classrooms, a dormitory, and related buildings, now consists of three historic buildings and one triangular historic landscape, all dating from the last twenty years of the institution. The rock-faced Alexander Bettis Community Library (1939) is a bungalow-form building with a dual-pitched pyramidal roof clad in V-crimp metal sheeting. The stuccoed brick Classroom Building (1935) is a bungalow-influenced building featuring exposed rafter tails, gable hoods with knee-braces, and a V-crimp metal-clad hip roof. The rock-faced Biddle Hall (1942) is more akin to the classically inspired or Colonial Revival secondary schools of the rural south. Listed in the National Register May 20, 1998.
Edgefield County's Historic Register LandmarksHistoric Landmarks of South Carolina's UpstateSouth CarolinaSouth Carolina Historic BuildingSouth Carolina National Historic RegisterBettisAcademyJuniorCollege