Kumler Hall

Also known as: Brainerd Institute
East of the corner of Marquis Street & Bailey Street, Chester, South Carolina

Historic former African-American College Building in Chester, SC


Kumler Hall

Photo taken by Michael Miller

View this photo at panoramio.com


Street View 


Brainerd Institute was one of the earliest and finest of the many private schools established for freedmen in South Carolina in the years just after the Civil War. Brainerd was operated from ca.1868 until 1940 by the Board of Missions of the Presbyterian Church, USA and offered vocational, industrial, mechanical, classical college preparatory, and teacher training. From 1868 until the turn of the century Brainerd provided the only schooling available for black children in Chester, and it provided the only high school until the 1920s. Brainerd occupied several locations before finally settling on the present site, the old DeGraffenreid land, where the mansion house was utilized as the main building. Two vacant and rapidly deteriorating buildings are the only remnants of the once active twenty-one acre campus, Kumler Hall and the ca. 1900 Martha Tweed Administration Building, which is in ruinous condition. Only Kumler Hall, a ca. 1916 brick two-story boys dormitory, retains sufficient structural and architectural integrity to meet National Register criteria. Kumler Hall has a central longitudinal hallway opening onto the porch, with a central single-flight stairway and classrooms and dormitory rooms opening on either side on both floors and the basement. The floors are wooden and the ceilings are plaster. The building is significant as the only intact physical reminder of one of the finest and most successful elements of this unique educational system for blacks. Listed in the National Register January 27, 1983.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 1983
Reference number
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - Black; Education
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic function
Educational related housing
Period of significance
Significant year
ca. 1916
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • October 29, 2013: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Overview", Updated "GPS Coordinates"