Mather Academy

1887–1983

The school Mather envisioned was founded twenty years later by the New England Southern Conference (NESC) of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church.

Mather Academy was the vision of Sarah Babcock Mather. She went to Camden in 1867 and opened a school for African American children. The overcrowded school was financed with her money, and Mather sought to establish a larger institution. She purchased twenty-seven acres near Camden to build a school but soon returned to Massachusetts. The school Mather envisioned was founded twenty years later by the New England Southern Conference (NESC) of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. As corresponding secretary of the NESC, Mather was able to enlist help in building the school. The conference provided funds for one building, and Fanny O. Browning of Connecticut provided $2,000 for a second structure. In 1887 the Browning Home and Mather Academy opened.

The school grew slowly in the 1890s. The curriculum expanded to include high-school-level science, mathematics, and language courses. Boys were admitted in 1890, and enrollment passed two hundred by 1900, which included thirty-seven girls boarding at the Browning Home, where they were trained as homemakers. By the early 1900s additional buildings had been constructed and a normal school curriculum added. Enrollment reached almost four hundred students by 1920. In 1934 Mather Academy became an “A” class high school (one of only four in South Carolina) and a member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. Mather’s most noteworthy alumnus, U.S. Representative James Clyburn, was in the 1957 graduating class.

Mather merged in 1959 with the struggling Boylan-Haven School of Jacksonville, Florida, and became Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy. The school remained in Camden, but amid declining enrollment and shrinking dollars it fell into disrepair. Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy graduated its last class in 1983, and its buildings were demolished in 1993.

Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy, 1887–1983: 96 Years of Excellence in Camden, South Carolina. [Camden, S.C.], 1983.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Mather Academy
  • Coverage 1887–1983
  • Author
  • Keywords vision of Sarah Babcock Mather, founded by the New England Southern Conference (NESC) of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, most noteworthy alumnus, U.S. Representative James Clyburn, Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date May 10, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2017
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