Friendship Normal and Industrial Institute grew out of activities of the Baptist Sunday School conventions of York and Chester Counties in South Carolina. These conventions met on the fifth Sundays for a day of readings, speeches and preaching. So the impulse for a school was to provide training for future teachers and ministers. Dr. Mansel P. Hall, pastor of churches in both conventions, encouraged them to work together to create such a school.
On October 21, 1891, Friendship College began with 11 students meeting in Mt. Prospect Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina until a new building was complete. Friendship grew quickly until its enrollment reached 200 in the fourth year. It was incorporated in 1906 and had an enrollment of 300 in 1908 according to Era of Progress and Promise.
During the 41-year tenure of President James A. Goudlock, Friendship College reorganized at three levels – an elementary school (grades 1-8), a high school, and a junior college. The junior college had two wings – teacher training and liberal arts. The strength of the curriculum allowed graduates to receive teaching certificates without examination. In 1978, the school received state approval for four-year programs in accounting, business administration and economics.
Even with a listed enrollment of 368, Friendship College was beginning to experience financial difficulties in 1980 and was forced to file for bankruptcy in December of 1981.
The 1941 ad for the school mentions four building, one of which, was called Main Building. College Hill was reported to have dormitory space for 44 girls in the upper floor, in addition to a chapel, offices and classrooms.
After the college closed, a major fired burned and damaged campus buildings to the extent that all had to be razed. In 2011, the Baptist Church and Friendship College alumni were raising funds for Dr. J. H. Goudlock Center to be built on the site of the college.
Friendship College was also known for the Friendship Nine, which was a group of African-American men who went to jail after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina in 1961.