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Cleveland County African American Heritage Trail
Item 10 of 11

From the late 1880s until 1926, the primary educational opportunity for African American youth in Kings Mountain was offered at the Bynum A.M.E. Zion Church and led by one teacher. In 1926, Kings Mountain School, a five-classroom building, was completed and the campus was renamed Davidson School in 1934. The school continued to serve African American students until 1961, when Kings Mountain School District consolidated rural and urban schools and all students were transferred to Compact School. The main building of Davidson School served as the district’s administrative offices starting in 1969.


  • Branch, Property, Tree, Land lot
  • Branch, Property, Land lot, Road surface
  • Brick, Brickwork, Property, Text

Beginning around 1888, African American youth residing in Kings Mountain attended classes in the Bynum A.M.E. Zion Church led by one teacher. This endeavor, organized by Reverend A.L. Martin and church elders, was the town’s primary African American educational instruction until the 1920s. At that time, the school system solicited public donations and subsidies from the Rosenwald Fund to construct a new graded school. In 1926, contractors completed Kings Mountain School, a one-story, gable-roofed, brick, H-plan, five-classroom building for $10,500. The local African American and white communities contributed $500 each, the Rosenwald Fund $1,300, and the school system paid the remaining $8,200.82. 

Reverend J.W. Roberts served as principal, assisted by his wife, Ida, who also taught in the school. R.J. Davidson next assumed leadership, and in 1934, on the recommendation of the Parent Teacher Association, the school system renamed the campus in his honor. During the 1934-1935 term, Davidson’s faculty consisted of two high school educators and seven elementary school instructors. High school enrollment comprised of eighty-one students, twelve of whom graduated. The faculty distribution remained the same in June 1941, when one male and six female teachers oversaw the elementary. Davidson and two male faculty members instructed seventy-one high school pupils, nine of whom successfully completed the course of study. 

High school students occupied four of eleven classrooms, participated in extracurricular activities including athletics and drama, glee, and literary clubs, and published a newspaper called The Guidepost. 

During the 1949-1950 academic term, Davidson School enrolled 164 first through eighth grade African American pupils taught by principal John Albert Gibson and five female teachers. Daily attendance averaged 146 students. Extracurricular activities included athletics, drama, and hobby clubs. High school attendance was around 70 students under the tutelage of two female teachers and one male teacher. Facility improvements included front sidewalk installation and associated landscaping. 

In 1954, contractors finished a one-story, flat-roofed, Modernist, six-classroom, elementary school building designed by architect James L. Beam. In 1959-1960, Gibson and three instructors taught 77 high school students, sixteen of whom graduated. 

In 1961, Kings Mountain School District’s consolidation of rural and urban schools resulted in Davidson High School students being bused to Compact School. First through eighth grades remained at Davidson School, which operated until 1968. That year, Kings Mountain School District demolished the 1926 Rosenwald School. The 1954 elementary school functioned briefly as a campus for students with special needs before being renovated to serve as the district’s administrative offices from 1969. 

Written By Chavis Gash

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Earl Scruggs Center

Earl Scruggs Center

Earl Scruggs Center