Early Beaufort Public Schools

The 1913 Sanborn Map showed a "Public School" on the west side of Turner 
 Street, across from the new Courthouse; school can be seen on the postcard below.

BEAUFORT GRADED SCHOOL was built in 1916 on the NE corner of Courthouse Square.
Courthouse and Graded School 

  Graded School on Courthouse Square

  1925 Graded School - High School Freshman Class

 In this 1925 photograph of the basketball team, houses/buildings 
on Cedar Street can be seen in the background.

By 1926/27, the school needed more classrooms. The graded school building 
was purchased by the county and became the Courthouse Annex.
 Courthouse and Annex
In 1927 a  new  BEAUFORT GRADED SCHOOL, first grade through high school, 
was built on the north side of Mulberry Street, at corner of Live Oak.

After 18 years -  in 1945, the 1927 Mulberry Street Graded School burned. 

The Gothic Revival entrance with arched door surround, Gothic paneled pilasters, and low-relief quatrefoils were saved and reused in building the c.1945 Town Hall at 215 Pollock Street.


In 1946, a new BEAUFORT GRADED SCHOOL was built at the Mulberry Street location.
It later became Beaufort High School, then Beaufort Elementary School.
Contemporary photograph of Beaufort Elementary School

Beaufort Elementary School
From 2004 Survey and Research Report 

by the Beaufort Historical Preservation Commission

The school was originally constructed in 1927 

as the Beaufort Graded School. The building burned in 1945, 
but was rebuilt in 1946 on the same site.

On August 7, 1926 plans for the Beaufort Graded School for white children were adopted by the Board of Trustees. The school was designed by Architect J.M. Kennedy and cost $129,000. The building included 20 classrooms and an auditorium that seated 1,400 people. The structure was 2 stories high with a wing extending to the rear of the building. The new school opened its doors on September 15, 1927 with a celebration that included over 1,000 people demonstrating the overwhelming and ongoing community support for the facility.

In December of 1935 the Beaufort High School Gym was added to the school complex. As noted above, the project was completed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, at a cost of $18,000.

On Sunday, February 4, 1945 the Beaufort Graded School burned from an un-determined cause that even today is thought to be suspicious in nature. The only remaining element of the school is the decorative façade, which was saved and now forms the entrance of Beaufort’s Town Hall on Pollock Street.

According to the February 15, 1945 edition of The Beaufort News, Chairman Raymond Ball and members of the Board of School Trustees of Beaufort Township “asked T.G. Leary, principal to make a rough sketch of a suitable building and work with architect B.H. Stevens and County School Superintendent, J.G. Allen. Mr. Leary’s plans envisioned a two-story building similar in design to the one which burned yet large enough to meet current school needs.”

The plans included a forty-room building with rest rooms, principal’s office, teacher’s rest rooms, and storage space. To save expenses, the building was to be void of monumental and ornate decoration. The cost of the new building was $250,000.

According to the May 31, 1945 issue of The Beaufort News, “The Beaufort Township graded school building soon to be erected on the site of the brick and wood building destroyed by fire last February will be noteworthy for its fire proof rated construction and its superb architectural proportions. Its scholastic efficiency achieved at remarkably low cost and its innovations in line with modern methods of education, which will include a manual training shop, a cafeteria, visual education, commercial and agricultural departments.

Overall size of the new building will be only slightly larger than that of the old but architectural genius has utilized available space, with an efficiency which will produce a building functionality larger than that of the old by nearly twenty-five per cent.

The building will be devoid of monumental and ornate gee-gaws, the County Board of Education in agreement with the architect, B. H. Stephens, that fancy work which would run cost of the building up without adding to its scholastic value can well be dispensed with in a building combining both in excellent proportion and color.

The building will be of brick similar in color and texture to the brick of the old and trimmed in stone of whiter finish than that in the old. Translucent glass brick, steel concrete with use of wood held to a minimum partly because of its fire hazard qualities, its high cost and War Production Board disapproval, will be other structural elements.

The school will have a front 42 feet longer than the old building. The wings will be slightly shorter, partly compensating for the increased length. This, with an improved arrangement of rooms and stairways, will provide additional capacity without greatly increasing the actual ground area.

The auditorium and stage will extend about 35 feet deeper. The auditorium is an independent building but so connected with the building that a person will be unable torealize the separation due to a spacious lobby. On the first floor a passage from the second floor of the school building to the balcony of the auditorium which is placed straight across the rear of the auditorium and so arranged that a full view of the stage is afforded from each of the building’s 240 seats. Pitched to ensure clear stage vision, the ground floor will contain 754 seats. The stage will be 18 feet deep. The ceiling will be 22 feet from the floor at the stage wall.

These features were made possible by the architect whose plans call for placing the new building eight feet east of the site of the old. This location was selected also to provide a better foundation and to present the building with a more prominent approach. The end of the building will be visible the length of Live Oak Street.”

The article further reveals that “the building was to be the epitome of building economy even to include use of as much salvage material from the old building as possible without affecting the permanence and appearance of the new building.”

The school is probably best known for its remarkable accomplishments in basketball. Its “Seadogs” achieved a 91-game winning streak and maintained a win-loss record of 368-75 in the 1950s and 1960s. According to experts, this winning record will most likely stand permanently in North Carolina sports history. The Seadogs were the “winningest” boys’ basketball team in the History of North Carolina. The team was the only Class 1-A school in North Carolina to garner three consecutive state championships.

The record included a State Class A Consolation Championship in 1953-1954, a State Class A Championship in 1954-1955, and State Class A Championships in 1958-1959, 1959-1960, and 1960-1961 game seasons, resulting in perfect 27-0, 24-0, 25-0 records, respectively. The Seadogs also won State Class AA 3rd Place in 1963-1965, and State Class AA District Runners-Up in 1964-1965.

The coach of these outstanding teams was Thomas McQuaid, who has recently been recommended for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Hall of Fame by numerous former students and players. Perhaps the most prominent supporter of Coach McQuaid’s nomination is none other than the renowned University of North Carolina Basketball Coach, Dean Smith. Coach McQuaid’s selection for the Hall of Fame is pending.

When approached about the secret of his accomplishment with the Seadogs, Coach McQuaid attributed the team’s success to their years in grammar school (Beaufort Elementary School) and its basketball program for 9-12-year olds, which also had three undefeated seasons. The coach explained that community and parental involvement, support, and interest were also integral to the players’ drive to succeed.

Apart from its achievements in athletics, the school can also point to unique academic accomplishments. For example, the Class of 1956 was remarkable because more than a third of its members maintained a 90% average for all four years of high school.

The school was also very progressive in the classroom implementing methods not unlike those in the famous Montessori Schools popular between 1907 and the 1930’s that promoted freedom and spontaneity. In this regard Beaufort Graded School had the only known canine to attend the fourth grade and be officially promoted to the fifth. (Attachment E.) “Brownie” Chappell attended the fourth grade class of Miss Lessie Arrington with his student owner during the 1937-38 school year. At the end of the year Brownie was promoted with the other students to the fifth grade. Although Brownie attended the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades with his master for a few days at the beginning of each year, he always returned to “Miss Lessie’s” fourth grade class for the remainder of the year and did so until his death.12[12] Both “Miss Lessie” and Brownie are legendary figures in the history of Beaufort Graded School.

Probably Beaufort’s most famous citizen, Michael J. Smith, attended Beaufort Graded School. Cdr. Smith was a Navy pilot and astronaut, who tragically lost his life in the Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986. A football player, named the “Best Blocker” on the 1962-63 team, Mike was known to stop in the middle of practice when an airplane flew over the field. His coach remembers that Mike would watch it until it was out of sight. This was likely the place that helped to inspire his love of aviation that eventually led him to become a Naval aviator, test pilot, and astronaut.

The school produced several outstanding athletes in addition to its remarkable basketball players. One of the most noteworthy is George Brooks, Jr., Class of 1934, who became a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

Yet another distinguished athlete was quarterback Butch Hassell, named to the honorable mention list of the 13th annual All-America high school football team—the highest honor ever afforded a county prep football player. He later became an All Atlantic Coast Conference player at Wake Forest University.

For all of the reasons outlined above, the Beaufort Graded School was, and is today, a source of great pride for the community and treasured by those who attended it, taught in it, supported it, and administered its educational programs. The community is dedicated to the preservation of the school and its designation as a local landmark.