Thinking back on my travel all over the state, some of my favorite places have been memorials and monuments that have been erected to schools. Maybe it’s because I’ve been a teacher for many years. Or perhaps it’s because I was reared by teachers. In addition to those in my household, some of the most important people in my life have been educators.
Students from all over the country who attended Camden’s Mather Academy erected a historical marker on the site of their beloved school, which was founded in 1887 and taught eager young minds for nearly 100 years.
Mather, which educated African-American children, was founded by the New England Southern Conference of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. It grew out of a freedmen’s school operated by Sarah Babcock, who is memorialized in the beautiful park that’s been created on the site of the school, Campbell and West Dekalb streets.
Mather Academy first taught only girls, but later admitted boys, in the first through 12th grades. A highly regarded school, Mather Academy’s campus featured a main education building, library, chapel, dormitories and a gym. It merged with Boylan-Haven School of Jacksonville, Fla., in 1959. The academy closed its doors in 1983 and the last of its buildings was demolished in 1995.
Among the alumni of Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy is U.S. Rep. James Clyburn.