Immanuel School

Also known as: Immanuel Institute, Emanuel Institute, Emanuel School, Andrew Robertson Institute , Coles Mission School , Coles Normal and Industrial School , Coles School , Immanuel Mission School , Immanuel Normal and Industrial School , Immanuel Presbyterian Mission School , Immanuel Training School , Northern Presbyterian School , St. Gerard's Catholic School
120 York St., NE., Aiken, SC


Immanuel School

Photo taken by Michael Miller in October 2018



Street View 


The Immanuel School, built in 1889-1890, is significant for its association with the parochial education of black children in Aiken and surrounding South Carolina counties from 1890 until it closed in 1932, and as a particularly rare, sophisticated, and intact example of Late Victorian vernacular school architecture as built for African-American schoolchildren in the late nineteenth century South. Immanuel School is particularly significant as a privately-funded African-American school. The school was founded shortly after the end of Reconstruction by Reverend William R. Coles, who came to Aiken under the authority of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen. Peak enrollment reached 300 in 1906 with 50 of the students being boarders. The curriculum included academic, normal, and industrial instructions, as well as the arts and music. In 1914, it was called the Andrew Robertson School until it closed during the Depression in 1932. The National Missions Board of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. was forced to discontinue financial support of many day schools. The Immanuel School was one of 35 black parochial schools closed in the South. During the next decade the school was transformed into the Lincoln Theatre, a theatre for Aikenís black community during segregation. In 1942 the Redemptionist Fathers of South Carolina purchased the property and opened the St. Gerardís Catholic School for African-American children. This privately funded school closed in 1964. During the next forty years, the building housed an auto parts store, a furniture store, and a Salvation Army Thrift Store. Aiken Corporation purchased the property in 2004 with plans to create a new Center for African American History, Art and Culture. Listed in the National Register June 3, 2009. - SCDAH

Update Log 

  • October 23, 2018: New photo from Michael Miller
  • August 15, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • June 5, 2014: Added by Michael Miller


  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com