Columbia, SC — The John de la Howe Manual Training Institute near McCormick is wasting away as the General Assembly apparently does not know about one of our state’s greatest assets.
The school, established in 1797, is the oldest manual training school in America. Dr. John de la Howe founded the school to help worthy, needy students whose parents were poor or having other hardships. At one time the school flourished with 400 students and an almost self-sustaining existence.
The sprawling campus, located in the beautiful rolling hills of the Piedmont, had hundreds of acres in vegetable crops, a dairy farm and a cannery to preserve foods for the winter. The quarters were co-educational with live-in chaperones. Thousands of students’ lives have been improved because of this opportunity.
Today the school has fewer than 100 students. Fields are barren, buildings are abandoned, nature trails need attending. This school is a perfect place for Clemson University or some other worthy institution to develop. It should continue to fulfill its original mission. It should become the most prestigious and functional research and development campus in South Carolina, if not the United States. It would be a hands-on working farm, proving that man, technology and nature can co-exist for the benefit of the school.
The Legislature, which is responsible for providing funding, could ensure that this campus becomes a prototype of what will lead us into the future.
Carlos W. Gibbons