In the 1950s, after years of declining enrollments as public schools gained broad acceptance, Porter Academy faced a grave crisis. Officials sold off assets such as football uniforms and jettisoned the military and high school departments just to survive.
Located in Charleston, Porter-Gaud had its beginning just after the Civil War. In 1867 the Reverend Anthony Toomer Porter launched the Episcopal Holy Communion Church Institute, a school for white boys. The school required a modest tuition for most students but subsidized the cost for orphans and indigents with private gifts, some from the northern states and Europe. Called Porter Academy after 1882, the school added a military department in 1887. At Porter’s death in 1902, drills in military tactics and football were part of the curriculum along with Latin, modern languages, science, and mathematics. In 1913 the football team held the college boys of the Citadel to a scoreless tie.
In the 1950s, after years of declining enrollments as public schools gained broad acceptance, Porter Academy faced a grave crisis. Officials sold off assets such as football uniforms and jettisoned the military and high school departments just to survive. But fortunes changed quickly with the aggressive new leadership of Charles Owens. Porter achieved dramatic improvements in buildings and programs, making the school a viable option just as the Brown v. Board of Education decision increased demand for private schooling among white parents. In 1964 Porter merged with Gaud, a well-regarded secondary school founded in 1908 by Canadian-born William S. Gaud, and Watt, a primary feeder into Gaud’s fourth grade. During the tenure of Berkeley Grimball as headmaster (1964–1988), the merged school, still an Episcopal affiliate, entered an era of financial security, full academic and extracurricular programs, a refurbished suburban campus, growing enrollments (including females and blacks after 1972), and a restored regional reputation.
Greene, Karen. Porter-Gaud School: The Next Step. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1982.
Porter, A. Toomer. Led On! Step by Step: Scenes from Clerical, Military, Educational, and Plantation Life in the South, 1828–1898. 1898. Reprint, New York: Arno, 1967.