Allen University

tall symmetrical academic building with a parking lot full of cars
Allen University

Photograph courtesy of South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
1530 Harden St. Columbia, South Carolina
Ethnic Heritage/Black, Education
Listed in the National Register – Reference number 75001705
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, Allen University was among the many private schools and universities for African Americans founded during the Reconstruction Era. Allen University was one of the first private black school founded and operated by Black faculty and scholars in South Carolina. The university was established shortly after the University of South Carolina barred African American students from attending the school. Allen University was created to help fill the need for black education in South Carolina. Allen University was founded in 1881 and established by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Named after Richard Allen, Allen University grew out of Payne Institute, established at Cokesbury in 1871 by the Abbeville District of the African Methodist Church. In 1880 the Columbia and South Carolina Annual Conferences of the church merged Payne into Allen University, which was opened in Columbia the following year. Founded primarily to provide an educated clergy for the A.M.E. Church, Allen University also offered law and vocational degrees. Beginning with sixty students and a faculty of six, the school graduated in its first nine years seventy-five students. Allen University was among the few southern colleges for black students that had a law department, which lasted until the early 1900s.

Link to Allen University File

Last updated: August 6, 2021