Calhoun Bridge Center in Clemson houses non-profits, offers look at past

Local News

CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – A building in Clemson is being used for many community services today, but many may not know it was used for education during segregation. 

The Calhoun Bridge Center, located at 214 Butler Street, houses three non-profits for the community. Some people in the area said its past history makes the site a hidden gem. 

“Our principal would stand on that stoop and watch all of us come into school every morning. He was standing there smoking his cigar. he was dressed in his three piece suit,” Robert Kemp, Friends of Clemson Area African American Museum, said. 

Kemp remembers what it was like attending Calhoun Elementary School back in 1955. 

“Back then, some of the people called it the Calhoun colored school, and that was before integration,” Robert Kemp said. 

According to Kemp, the school was built in 1947, and was the only school for Black people in Clemson. 

“Then, it became Morrison Elementary back in the 70’s and that’s when it was integrated. My kids went to school here,” Robert Kemp said. 

Today, it now holds the Clemson Child Development Center, The Arts Center of Clemson and The Clemson Area African American Museum. 

“Right now, we’re hoping to get more rooms so we can have a better museum and more space,” Robert Kemp said. 

CAAAM is currently being revamp with a new exhibit. 

“Our first exhibition is going to be about the community. Tell about how they lived, some of the places they worked and some of the people who lived in here,” said Bessie Kemp, Friends of CAAAM. 

The Kemps’ hope when it’s complete, their untold stories and many others in the Black community, will be honored and treasured for years to come. 

“Because the young kids need to know the history of this school, and the history of the community. It shouldn’t be forgotten. That’s why we started this museum because we want the younger people to realize what happened. And the way it is today, it didn’t come easy,” Robert Kemp said. 

The museum is being worked on now. Robert Kemp said it could take another month or so before it’s ready. 

Robert Kemp also said, “The Friends of CAAAM” has been raising money for the museum, and they continue to look for support to enhance it. 

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