Porter Military Academy
Waring Historical Library
Porter Military Academy. This area has served as an early burial ground, a U.S. Arsenal, weapons factory, chapel, Confederate munitions foundry, and educational institution.
St. Luke's Chapel
Backstory and Context
Dr. Porter was a former rice planter of South Carolina. He entered the ministry in an attempt to bring order following the Civil War. In 1867, Revered Porter lost his son which led him to founding the Holy Communion Church Institute with his wife in order to educate former soldier and boys left orphaned by the devastating financial aftermath of the Civil War. Union General William T. Sherman strongly supported Dr. Porter’s efforts in moving the Holy Communion Church Institute into the arsenal in hopes to expand. By the 19th century, the arsenal became known as the Porter Military Academy.
Dr. Porter’s military academy accepted children of all faiths. The primary goals of the school was character development, which was summarized in the motto on the PMA crest: WATCH (Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character, and Habits). George J. Magwood, a PMA graduate, wrote a letter to Medical College President Dr. Pratt-Thomas in 1964 describing a few details giving an inside peak of the daily life of the Porter Military Academy students,
“I remember how we attended chapel services every morning before classes; Protestant, Catholic, Jew and Greek alike without any protest to the Supreme Court by a dissentient parent. We sang Onward Christian Soldiers accompanied by an old hand pumped organ played by a retired Marine Sergeant who also instilled in us true American History and pride in our traditions and institutions.”
In 1964 the Medical University of
South Carolina bought the school. Several of the original buildings were tore
down in order to make room for the new plans surrounding the Medical University
campus. The remaining buildings serve as an excellent representation of the
site’s diverse purposes and uses over time. Only two buildings remain from the
Arsenal complex, St. Luke's Chapel and Colcock Hall (one of two surviving
military buildings in South Carolina that were actually built by the Confederate
government). There are brick walls along Ashley Avenue that surround the
school; these date back to the 19th century and are the works of
Holten Bell, a prominent African American builder. The Waring Historical
Library is the only remaining building built by Dr. Porter. The Waring
Historical Library consists of a gothic octagonal library with square reading
rooms. The building was donated by and named for leading New York clergyman
Reverend Charles Frederick Hoffman. The current library commemorates Dr. Joseph
Waring, one of the Medical school's early professors and historian.