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Founded in 1923, Parker High School was a significant turning point for higher education regarding students in the mill villages surrounding Greenville, SC. The school would grow to become a standard of excellence becoming named a Top 10 School in the Nation between the years of 1955-1971. During the 1930s the school gained an auditorium, which would later become a significant example of the Works Progress Administration. The auditorium was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

  • Outside view of school
  • The famous Parker High School Marching Band
  • Parker High School Auditorium
  • Students at Parker High School

Parker High School opened in the year of 1923, just a year after the Parker School District was founded. The idea of building a higher education school district was first developed by Thomas Parker. Prior to the establishment of this school, mill villages only provided elementary education for children, no higher education. A charter was received by the state of South Carolina and the school was funded by taxes from the mill. The school was named after Thomas Parker the main driving force behind it. On opening day the school had 454 children enrolled, but would later drop its enrollment in the following few years.                                                                                                                              
In the 1930s the Works Administration Progress was introduced and because of this program Parker High School's auditorium was added in the year of 1938. The building is rectangular and approximately 7,500 square feet. It is made entirely of brick and has a triangle roof. Originally only one section, a second section was added to the back of the building in 1964. The auditorium was part of a $285,000.00 project of buildings being added to the school. The total cost of the auditorium was $50,000.00. Currently, this is the last part of Parker High School that remains.                                                                                                                                                                                                     As the school grew, it became much more than a simple mill school. It offered many different vocational and college preparatory courses. Classes included courses such as cosmetology, woodworking, electric, and the military. The school became known as having very rigorous academic standards, and attracted many new students outside of the mills. The school was placed as one of the best in the nation. It won the honor of being named in the Top Ten High Schools in America in the years 1955, 1957, 1960, 1966, and 1971. In addition to high academic standards, Parker High School also had one of the best marching bands in the United States. The band won many awards, and performed at places such as the world's fair and the white house.                                                                                                                                                                                                
Prior to 1971, the school was only open to white students. In the year of 1971 it would become fully integrated allowing all students regardless of race. The school focused on racial harmony and provided many clubs and committees to ensure all students were being treated fairly. In 1985, the school shut down due to low enrollment.

In the end, the school was very significant in accelerating higher education among the mill communities in Greenville. The auditorium was significant in providing jobs and setting an example of how the Works Progress administration was designed. In addition, the auditorium was significant for advancing the textile industry in Greenville. The auditorium was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.                                                                                                                                                                                         

History Of Parker High School. Greenville County Historic Schools. Accessed April 21, 2017. . 

Huff, Archie Vernon. Greenville: The History of the City and County in the South Carolina Piedmont. Columbia, South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, 1995

Parker High School Auditorium- Greenville, South Carolina. South Carolina Picture Project.   

Scott, Brain. Parker High School Auditorium. The Historical Marker Database. May 22, 2010.
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