Echoes of Shiloh: Historic School Decays in Cattle Pasture

The Shiloh Schoolhouse is said to have been built sometime in the late 1800s. Moved from its original site, today the decaying structure sits in the middle of a cattle pasture near Starr, S.C.

The Shiloh Schoolhouse is said to have been built sometime in the late 1800s. Moved from its original site, today the decaying structure sits in the middle of a cattle pasture near Starr, S.C.

I stumbled upon this haunting echo of the Old South while driving the back roads near Starr, S.C. The Shiloh Schoolhouse was built in 1882 (according to one online source, though I can’t verify that date is accurate). Whatever the date, it’s surely been at least a lifetime since the chatter of school children were last heard and the final clangs rang out from the school’s bell tower.

The schoolhouse sits in the middle of a pasture, near the juncture of US 29 and SC 412, sadly decaying into ruin — a condition undoubtedly hastened over the years due to the fact the structure also doubles as a shelter for cattle. Why no preservation efforts have ever intervened to save the building from crumbling into disrepair is a troubling testament to a community’s lack of respect for its heritage.

I did a little digging online but wasn’t able to find out much about Shiloh’s history. One source said the school closed in 1901, but that doesn’t jive with a story I read about a retired school teacher (now in her 90s) who claims to have worked as the school’s teacher in 1942. The schoolhouse was moved from its original site when Lake Hartwell was flooded, sometime in the early 1960s.

We at RSM would love to know more about the Shiloh school and its past. Here’s hoping some of our readers can share additional information about its history, especially since the crumbling structure’s days appear numbered. Judging from the looks of things, Shiloh may soon give up the ghost, collapsing with one final gasp — one last echo … to go along with the bawls from the bovines.

3 Responses to “Echoes of Shiloh: Historic School Decays in Cattle Pasture”

  1. Great photo! I hope someone knows something about this place.

  2. We have lived in Anderson, SC going on 19 years now. My wife and I went backroading for photo ops when we came across this decaying piece of old Americana. I truly wish there was a way to restore this old schoolhouse to its original state. Love to pitch in to help.

    I would add that I believe that there must be more to this story that has prevented this from being restored, as contrary to your assertion, I believe the people of this area are extremely proud of their heritage.CHT

  3. The popular story that this school was moved is just that – a story. See the 1937 Anderson County map at http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/scrm/id/46 and compare it with the 1966 map at http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/scrm/id/8 . It’s not named in the 1966 map since it had closed by that time, but the spot where it sat in 1937 is still on dry land.

    I don’t think this building dates back to 1882 – the architecture (and size) just doesn’t support it. There is an 1885 Anderson Intelligencer article that mentions that school is being held at “Shiloh School” for the first time in “several terms” – which wouldn’t have been the case if they had just built a huge, new building. In 1902, the same newspaper indicates that the community is considering a consolidation with another school – which I’m guessing did occur which resulted in this building being constructed.

    The 1901 closure date also makes no sense – because it was for sure around when the teacher was located there in 1942 and it was clearly still a school as of the 1937 map. The same sources I see that claim 1901 also claim that it was moved for Lake Hartwell – and there is little to no chance that a rural community would pay to move a building that hadn’t been used in 55+ years.

    Possibly furthering along the confusion – it wasn’t the only Shiloh School in Anderson County. There was one built in 1885 near Piedmont. In 1915, it merged with Waco School to form Rock Hills School. An African-American Rosenwald school with the name of Shiloh School was built in 1929 in Townville, very near future Lake Hartwell. I also believe there was another Shiloh School in Abbeville County near the Anderson County border.

    Researching the area (and Anderson County in general) is complicated – the seemingly ever-changing “community names” with sometimes very fuzzy borders makes things difficult and confusing, even if you’ve been researching the area for some time.

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