The building now known as the abandoned Laing Middle School is so much more than just an empty structure. It was constructed in 1953 as Laing High School, a school for Mt. Pleasant’s African-American population. According the News & Courier on Jan. 8, 1953, the building’s construction marked "the current phase in the comprehensive school equalization program” and was strategically placed in proximity “to the home locations of the pupils.” The property, originally known as the Joseph Seabrook Estate, was surrounded by lush woods and small Lowcountry Gullah Geechee communities, such as Six Mile, Seven Mile and Snee Farm. No shopping centers. No traffic. Just nature and families.
The new Laing High School replaced a wooden structure at the corner of King and Royall in Mt. Pleasant’s Old Village. This earlier structure was constructed by the Abolition Society of Philadelphia for the education of the newly-freed black population immediately following the Civil War. In the 1940s, the high school became the first public black high school to be accredited in Charleston County. In 1953, the “old frame” building was demolished to make way for a playground after the school’s relocation to the new facilities on Highway 17. Today, there is a historic marker in its place.
On the first day of school in 1953, the new Laing High held 300 students and included nine classrooms, a library and a large room to serve as an auditorium/gym/lunchroom. In February of that year, well-known Mt. Pleasant citizen and long-time school board secretary Jennie Moore told the News & Courier it was a “dream come true.”
Fast forward to 2015. Exactly two years ago today, Charleston County School District Deputy for Capital Programs Jeffrey Borowy told the Moultrie News:
The building has been completely gutted and is uninhabitable. It is our plan to sell that property. It is in a great location and selling it would bring in a chunk of money that we could then use to buy a bigger area of land to build a larger school if necessary. We want to leverage that property to buy another piece of property in a less-desirable location as far as commercial value is concerned.
With no regard for community integrity, the school district has sold the building to Home Depot, who plans to develop the lot. Like its predecessor, the school will most likely be replaced with an historic marker.
Location: Highway 17 and Six Mile Road
Age: c. 1953, 64 years old
Status: Sold to Home Depot by the Charleston County School District
Post & Courier, "Home Depot Eyes Old Laing School Site in Mount Pleasant for New Store"
Moultrie News, "All Eyes on East Cooper - CCSD making major investments"