And how Avery helped students reach new heights
Nine Avery High School gymnasts form an impressive human pyramid on the lawn outside of 123 Bull Street, a two-and-a-half story building that was used as teachers’ housing for the Avery Normal Institute, the first accredited high school for African Americans in the Lowcountry. Francis Cardozo, Avery’s first principal, acquired funds from the American Missionary Association to purchase both the former residence and the adjacent lot, where the Avery Normal Institute opened its doors on May 7, 1868. The school offered teacher training and college preparatory tracks in a variety of fields, as well as extracurricular activities such as theater, foreign language, and athletic teams for football, basketball, and gymnastics (as shown here in 1939). By 1880, the institute had more than 500 students, many of whom went on to receive teaching certificates and become prominent politicians, educators, and civil rights activists. Today, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture occupies the building at 125 Bull Street and is dedicated to collecting and preserving the unique history and culture of the African diaspora with an emphasis on the South Carolina Lowcountry as a part of the College of Charleston’s Library system.