In the Spotlight:

The Williams-Henson

Home for Boys

Williams-Henson Home for Boys (WHHB) opened its doors on September 25, 1928. The home rested upon 155 acres of gifted farmland, graciously willed by Mr. Lewis E. Williams for the purpose of providing a home for “unfortunate boys”. In his will, Mr. Williams specified that the “farm is to be used for an Orphan Home forever, and is to be under the control and supervision of Holston Synod . . .”.(1.)

 

Mrs. Martha Henson, a Lutheran benefactress, was instrumental in formation  of the home, giving a sizable endowment of $5,000 “for the benefit of the William Henson Home for Boys”.(2.) The home began modestly, with only three boys residing there fulltime. The mission of the WHHB was to “shelter, educate, train, protect and otherwise care for delinquent boys between the ages of six and twenty-one years and prepare mentally, morally, physically and technically for any useful business, trade, profession or calling, and to inspire them to become good and useful citizens.”(3.) 

 

As time passed, the Board of Directors deemed it suitable to expand the home’s scope and welcome any “dependent” youth—regardless of color, creed, or criminal history—who needed a home. The WHHB valued itself as a “[w]holesome Christian home where ‘family’ is the keyword, and the church is central in the spiritual nurture and care of the boys.”(4.) The home’s nurturing reputation spread, and at one point during the home’s early years, as many as 30 residents were documented. By its 50th anniversary, WHHB had reduced their numbers to a somewhat more manageable 12 children, though its reputation as a loving home, supported by devoted caregivers, never wavered. (5.)

 

Ownership of the WHHB passed from many hands and supporters throughout its tenure. Beginning with the Holston Synod, the WHHB was assumed under the Virginia Synod for a period of time, finishing out its years with the Southeastern Synod (5.) until its closure in 2005, due to financial difficulties.

 

1 Excerpt from the Will of Lewis Elbert Williams, April 1925, typed document detailing formation of WHHB, File A, Box 1, Records of William-Henson Home for Boys, James R. Crumley Jr. Archives, Lineberger Library, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir Rhyne University (Columbia, SC.).

2. Excerpt from the Will of Martha C. Henson, 28 Sept. 1927, typed document detailing formation of WHHB, File A, Box 1, Records of William-Henson Home for Boys, James R. Crumley Jr. Archives, Lineberger Library, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir Rhyne University (Columbia, SC.).

 

3.  “William-Henson Home Statement of Purpose”, c. 1964, File A, Box 1, Records of William-Henson Home for Boys, James R. Crumley Jr. Archives, Lineberger Library, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir Rhyne University (Columbia, SC.).

 

4. Ibid.

 

5. “God’s Child-Our Child: 50 years of Loving Care”, The Williams-Henson Lutheran Home for Children 50th Anniversary invitation, 24 Sept. 1978, File A, Box 1, Records of William-Henson Home for Boys, James R. Crumley Jr. Archives, Lineberger Library, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir Rhyne University (Columbia, SC.).

4201 N. Main Street

Columbia, S.C. 29203

803-461-3234

 

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