History of our School

Brewer Middle School Continues a Proud Tradition



     The first school located at the Brewer School site on East Cambridge Avenue was the Hodges Institute, founded by the Baptists and named for the Reverend Nicholas Ware Hodges, a minister in the area who was active in Baptist education.  Adjacent to the two-story brick school erected in 1847 for boys, the Baptists built another brick building for a girls’ school, named the Fuller Institute for another Baptist minister, the Reverend Richard Fuller.


     After the Civil War, the Methodists purchased the Fuller Institute to use the building for a church.  The trustees of the Hodges Institute sold it to the American Missionary Association in 1872, which then opened Brewer Institute (later designated Brewer Normal School) as a school for newly emancipated African Americans.  The school began with only one teacher.

     The school’s name was in honor of the Reverend Josiah Brewer, a scholar, missionary to Africa, and member of the first board of trustees, one of whose sons became a principal at Brewer.  Another son, David Josiah Brewer, became an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Brewer Bell was a gift from the northern benefactors of Brewer.  When the original two-story building had to be torn down, the bell was placed on this brick pedestal.


     In 1925 School District 18, at that time the public school district of the city of Greenwood, adopted Brewer Normal.  In 1927 the county of Greenwood took over part of the school’s support, making Brewer Normal a state-adopted high school, eligible for state funding.

     In 1935, after 60 years of assistance to Brewer School, the American Missionary Association withdrew all financial support.  All school property was deeded to District 18 with the provision that it always be used for education.  With the formation of Greenwood District 50, Brewer School became the high school for black students.  Brewer High School offered a variety of vocational courses and prepared students for further education to become teachers and other professionals.

The base of a lamppost on the Brewer School site on East Cambridge Avenue serves as a reminder of Brewer High School.  Brewer High School alumni continue to express their interest in the school today.


     In 1945 Dr. Benjamin James Sanders, Jr., who began as a teacher of sciences at Brewer Normal School in 1928, became principal of Brewer High School.  During his tenure the faculty grew from seven to sixty-four teachers, and the student population increased from less than 400 to 1600.  The school was also accredited during this period.  Mindful of the proud tradition continued at Brewer, Dr. Sanders salvaged the bell from the original two-story building and requested that it be left on campus where it sits atop a brick base today.


     When District 50 schools were integrated in 1970, Brewer became an intermediate school, housing grades five and six.  In 1994, after a district restructuring, Brewer opened its doors as Brewer Middle School comprising grades six through eight.

     Brewer Middle School began the 2005-2006 school year in a new location on Emerald Road.  The Brewer School campus on East Cambridge Avenue is now the Brewer Community Complex.  This complex is home to the Magic Johnson Empowerment Center, which offers recreation activities, afterschool assistance, computer classes, and exercise facilities.