Greenwood County Historical Society
P.O. Box 49653,
Greenwood, South Carolina 29649

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The History of Cokesbury College.

The Masonic Female College and Conference School, known today as Cokesbury College, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It began as the Masonic Female College of South Carolina and has had very few alterations since it was built in 1854.  It is Greek revival in style, with a bell tower, four square columns rising from ground level to pediment, double-door entrance on the second floor level and originally had four recitation rooms and four music rooms on the first floor, a chapel on the second floor, and a Masonic Lodge headquarters on the third.  There was no dormitory; young ladies boarded in town.  The restoration, begun in 1968, added circular steps  and changed the interior to a first floor parlor and bedroom and added pews from the oldest Methodist charge in Lancaster to the chapel along with an antique pulpit, bishop’s chair and rosewood piano, and converted the third-floor into a Masonic museum and parlor.

The village around Cokesbury College dates from 1824—and was one of South Carolina’s earliest planned communities.  It was developed for and around the school.  Celebrated for the high caliber of its education, the Cokesbury Conference School first operated as a school for boys, co-educational from 1882 and a public school from 1918 to 1954 when the property reverted to Methodist Conference. 

W.W. Wightman, whose influence shaped early Cokesbury Institute, was the first president of Wofford College.  Among other alumni were first president of Randolph Macon College, two presidents of Columbia College, a president of Wesleyan.  The writings of another Cokesbury alumnus, Bishop Holland McTyeire, founder of Vanderbilt University, express the unusual devotion and enthusiasm Cokesbury School inspired.

The Masonic Female College of South Carolina, an effective through briefer experiment in education for young women (1853-1874) represented ideas that were rather advanced for the times.  This institution also furthered the charm, character and influence of the town. 

Today, the restoration and preservation of Cokesbury College is led by the Cokesbury Commission.

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