Henry Timrod Schoolhouse

Henry Timrod Schoolhouse

Location: 400 Timrod Park Dr, Florence, SC 29501

The schoolhouse is named after Henry Timrod, who is often called the “Poet Laureate of the Confederacy,” although it was an unofficial title. He was born in 1828 and attended the University of Georgia in the 1840s. As a lover of the Romantic period, he began publishing poems in South Carolina newspapers and periodicals.

With the help of Paul Hamilton Hayne, Timrod founded Russell’s Magazine in 1857. The magazine was named after John Russell’s Charleston bookstore. The magazine ran for 3 years and aimed to keep politics out of its literary assessments. Timrod himself even published 37 poems throughout the years in the magazine. 

Starting in 1858, Timrod taught the children of Colonel William Henry Cannon, Jr., at Orange Grove Plantation in Mars Bluff as well as white children from other nearby plantations. He got the job when he went to visit his sister and his brother-in-law, George Muno Goodwin, who was an overseer on Orange Grove Plantation. This one-room schoolhouse where Timrod taught was built in 1859. That was the same year he published his first book of poetry, simply titled Poems.

When the American Civil War began, Timrod left Mars Bluff and headed to Charleston. There, he initially opposed the decision to secede from the United States. However, he went on to join the Confederate Army, until his medical discharge due to tuberculosis. However, he still campaigned for the Confederacy. In 1863, he gave a lecture before the Methodist Female College in Columbia encouraging them to aid Confederate soldiers. The next year, he moved to Columbia and married his former student, Kate Goodwin, who gave birth to their son Willie.

In February of 1865, Union troops ransacked and burned Columbia. At this point, Timrod was living in poverty and taking loans from friends. In October of the same year, his son Willie passed away. After nearly a year of grieving, Timrod became a partial owner of the South Carolinian, a daily newspaper published in Columbia. 

In 1867, Timrod lost his battle with tuberculosis and passed away. He is buried at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cemetery in Columbia. However, his name continues to be present. In 1930, the plantation and accompanying schoolhouse where he had worked were donated to the Ellison Capers Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The schoolhouse was moved to the grounds of the Poynor Junior High School, also featured on this tour. The schoolhouse was moved yet again in 1938 to the park now named after Timrod.

The park also has a monument to Timrod with a front, side, and back phrase that you can read while visiting the park. Together they read, “The poet to the whole wide world belongs. So in thy thoughts, though clothed in sweet repose, they life shall bear its flowers in future times. All human thoughts and human passion wait upon the genuine bard.”

The schoolhouse was donated to the Florence County Museum in 2012, where deliberation was held about whether it should be moved again or remain in the park. The Timrod Park Neighborhood Association fought back against it being moved. They voted that it would stay in the park and the county agreed to provide maintenance and upkeep.

The park surrounding the school has 11 lighted tennis courts,10 pickleball courts, a playground, picnic areas, a picnic shelter, a gazebo, a fitness area, an amphitheater and handicap-accessible nature trails.

Long after his passing, Henry Timrod’s legacy in the Florence area continues in the structures named after him, including the schoolhouse and the accompanying park.