It looks like the fate of Mt. Zion may once again be up in the air. The historic Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro has been in an uncertain state since 2008 when the town first announced the demolition of the building. Today things do not seem to be any brighter.
The non-profit group Friends of Mt. Zion did manage to keep the torch lit for several years and made several improvements to the school. Ultimately that wasn’t enough as they did fail to meet Winnsboro’s stringent 18-month improvement deadlines. Once again the town owns the property and demolition may be simply inevitable.
While Friends of Mt. Zion did manage to replace the roof, maintain the grounds, repair the front windows, and repair the exterior of the classroom building, it has sat alone for almost two years. Ever since the town rescinded the building, it has fallen into a state of limbo. What exactly will happen to this historic site is now unknown.
Mt. Zion Institute contains a remarkable history. Originally a school for boys, it was founded by the 1780s. Many years later in 1878, it would become the very first public school in the upstate. Another interesting fact about the building is that it was used by Lord Cornwallis. In 1780 it was his headquarters after the defeat of the British and Loyalists at Kings Mountain. If that isn’t enough historical significance, it was used as an elementary school until 1991!
It seems that today the fate of Mt. Zion is bleak, though possibly not sealed. Winnsboro has been in talks with the county to renovate the building for administration purposes and hasn’t begun demolition. Many of those hopes were before SCANA canceled construction on the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station this past July and cost 5,600 people their jobs.
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