Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Seneca Institute / Seneca Junior College

Marker ID: SCHM 37-8
Location: South 3rd St. and Poplar St., Seneca, SC
County: Oconee
Coordinates: N 34° 40.838    W 082° 57.571
  34.68063333    -82.95951666
Style: Free Standing **



The Seneca Institute (later Seneca Junior College) educated African American children of this region from 1899 to 1939. It was founded and sponsored by the Seneca River Baptist Association, which in 1898 acquired eight acres here. The first home of Seneca Institute, a frame three-room building, was built in 1899. Its first principal, Dr. John Jacob Starks (d. 1944), served here 1899-1912 before serving as president of Morris College and then Benedict College.


Seneca Institute taught academic courses to primary and secondary students and industrial courses as well to secondary students. Its campus featured a two-story frame classroom building, a two-story frame boys´ dormitory, and a two-story brick girls´ dormitory and chapel. Though it expanded its curriculum to become Seneca Junior College in 1930, it struggled through the Depression and finally closed in 1939.

Erected by the Oconee County African American Heritage Committee, 2006