The first school in the town of Pickens was started under a brush arbor in the front yard of a Mrs. Spartan D. Goodlett in 1868. This is on a lot just below where the Presbyterian Church now stands. A small school house at the rear of the Col. C.L. Hollingsworth home followed the brush arbor. The community soon outgrew this little school building. A school was opened in the McFall building which stood at the present site of the South Carolina National Bank. A large dwelling and storeroom were made into a school house. This is where the first real education system in Pickens had its beginning.
Sensing a need for a better education system, a large, two-story building was erected on a four-acre lot donated by Mrs. Naomi Duff Clayton. This lot was on Main Street where the Village Park Hardware is now located. Known as the Piedmont Institute and operated by Mr. and Mrs. McCaslan, the school attracted many students. It has been told that it was at this school that one of the professors said that someday men would be flying. This professor was fired for this belief. The school system of Pickens purchased a lot on Cedar Rock Street and a three-room school building was erected. This lot was near the T.L. Bivens home. This was the beginning of The Pickens Graded School. Math and other subjects were divided into groupssuch as beginners in Number Work, Little Arithmetic, Middle Arithmetic and Big Arithmetic In 1904, Pickens School District took another big forward step. A lot at the intersection of Hagood and Cedar Rock Streets was bought. On this lot was erected a brick building with six classrooms and an auditorium.
From 1906 until 1910 under Mr. J.W. Swittenberg, the system of graded schools was further developed. The school was expanded into a 22-room building and a gymnasium was built. It housed all grades through graduation and served students all the way to the North Carolina state line.
In 1947, the Pickens Elementary School was a part of the Pickens High School. They had seven classroom teachers and a part-time music teacher. The enrollment was 217 and seven grades were taught. It supplied the largest enrollment to the high school. The Pickens Elementary School had a brick veneer building connected with the high school. The agricultural and home economics departments shared the use of it. It was steam heated and had running water and indoor toilets. The lunchroom, gymnasium, and playground were used by both the elementary and high school
at different times during the day. The high school and elementary school assembled twice weekly at the same period in the auditorium for chapel.
The school furniture included tables and chairs, desks, and tablet arm chairs. Each room had a teacher's desk and a cloak room. The different grades possessed a number of supplementary readers and pleasure-reading books that the children shared. The students in the elementary school had access to music classes and some were even involved in the Glee Club. The school owned a record player, which all the students were able to enjoy. Some of the students were active in the Scout Organization and the Frances Mauldin History Club. There was also a Parent-Teacher Association.
In 1954, a new high school was built where it is presently located and the old building was used solely by grades one through six. As the number of students increased, students in the seventh grade had to be transported to the old Town Creek School, just outside of town, for one year. The new Pickens Elementary School was built, allowing this older building to be used as a Junior High School in 1962.
Pickens Elementary is one of fifteen elementary schools serving Pickens County. This community school has been at the heart of the School District of Pickens County since its inception over 100 years ago. The present building has served elementary school children for more than 50 years. Today our community of learners has a population of approximately 485 students served by 66 teachers and staff members.