For 125 years, Connie Maxwell Children’s Home has provided hope for South Carolina’s children and families in need. Established in 1892 as a ministry of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Connie Maxwell has positively impacted more than 17,000 individuals throughout our long history. We are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
Mission: The mission of Connie Maxwell Children’s Home is to care for children while developing and strengthening positive relationships in a Christian environment.
Vision: Connie Maxwell accomplishes its purpose by offering hope and healing through child care, counseling, and family service programs designed to meet physical needs, improve personal, family and spiritual relationships, teach wholesome and productive living, and to encourage acceptance of and growth in the Christian faith.
From Tragedy, Hope Emerged for Future Generations of Children
“Nearly a hundred children [are] pleading for admission.” This was the statement made by Dr. William P. Jacobs, who ran a South Carolina orphanage, which caught the attention of W.W. Keys, a well-respected senior editor of the Baptist Courier in the late 1800’s.
On November 15, 1888, Mr. Keys wrote an editorial about the plight of orphans that resonated with South Carolina Baptists and the Baptist Convention.
As the convention began to pursue that ministry opportunity, Dr. J.C. Maxwell and his wife, Sarah, were mourning the loss of their daughter, Constance Pope, or “Connie” as the family had called her. Connie had been the Maxwell’s only child to survive infancy and tragically died of scarlet fever at age seven. The Maxwell’s were considering ways to honor their daughter and heard about the convention's plans for an orphanage.
In 1891, knowing they would never raise children of their own, the couple offered the convention their 470-acre farm in Greenwood, SC with the conditions that the land always be used to help needy children and that the orphanage bear the name of their treasured daughter.
Rev. James L. Vass became the first superintendent of Connie Maxwell Orphanage and served from 1891-1899.
On May 22, 1892, Connie Maxwell Orphanage welcomed the first child, Susie H. Burton from Newberry County. She traveled alone by train and was met by Mr. J.K. Durst and his nine-year-old daughter Susie Durst Cheatham. By the end of the year, there were 26 boys and girls, ranging from age three to 13.
1900 - 1912
Dr. A.T. Jamison served as the second superintendent of Connie Maxwell from 1900-1946. He has the distinction of serving the longest term as director—46 years. He also served as pastor for 34 years from 1912-1946. Dr. Jamison speaks of being a poor farm boy in his early years and never attended college; however, he was an avid reader and became a highly educated man.
In 1908, it cost around $85.00 a year to care for one child. The average stay was 8 years.
Connie Maxwell was the first children’s home to make each cottage on campus self-contained. Each cottage had a cow, garden, and poultry yard to provide vegetables, milk, and eggs. The first cottage, known for many years simply as Number One, later became known as the Infirmary, and was finally named Greenwood Cottage in 1912.
Connie Maxwell Orphanage had its own school on campus. Miss Jeannette Murdoch, who had joined the teaching staff in 1900, became principal of the school in 1906 and served in this capacity until 1919 (she had nearly 53 years of total service to Connie Maxwell). The school became one of the most outstanding schools in the state, offering a higher standard and more comprehensive curriculum than available in most schools, especially in the rural areas.
1915 - 1924
The Arrival of Sam M. Smith
November 24, 1915, Samuel M. Smith arrived on campus. He was the 752nd child admitted into care at Connie Maxwell Orphanage. He was 10 years old and in first grade when he arrived.
The first playground was established on campus in 1917.
The Jamison Home was dedicated on September 3, 1920, and was named for Dr. A.T. Jamison. For many years, the basement served as the bakery. Also in 1920, a modern dairy including electric milkers was built on the site of what is now Brown Cottage.
Connie Maxwell Baptist Church was organized in 1912. Until that time, children and staff had been attending Greenwood First Baptist Church. Three different buildings have served as Connie Maxwell’s church. The original structure was erected as a school building and chapel shortly after the founding of the children’s home. In 1924, construction began on the second church building, which was funded with a gift from the Woman’s Missionary Union of South Carolina.
1927 - 1932
The Great Depression
Conditions at the children’s home improved when it was incorporated into the Greenwood City limits in 1927. Some of the benefits included: better electrical service, paved roads, an upgraded water system, and security by the Police Department.
However, the Great Depression would soon take its toll on the orphanage. Two cottages closed in 1928. Between 1933-1934, employee salaries were reduced twice by 10%. Many workers volunteered to return up to a fourth of their salaries to Connie Maxwell. Others offered to work for room and board only.
In 1932, former student Samuel M. Smith was hired as a Field Representative to assist church associations and Sunday schools. He visited rural people across South Carolina who might not have cash to give but could plant a patch of farmland and donate the produce to the orphanage. This ministry became known as God’s Acre Plan.
1936 - 1946
Alumni Pay Tribute
During 1936, there was an average of 21 children per cottage.
The Ezell Gymnasium was completed in 1938 with funds provided through the bequest of the late S.B. Ezell of Spartanburg, a longtime Connie Maxwell trustee. The building served as headquarters for the athletic and activities program, as well as a school assembly area.
The Alumni of Connie Maxwell Children’s Home paid tribute to Dr. Jamison at the 1938 reunion with the presentation of a silver plaque. At the 1946 reunion, they accepted responsibility for the development of a recreation area to be known as Jamison Square in appreciation for Dr. Jamison’s long service “to the children of his generation”.
1946 - 1951
On July 1, 1946, Dr. A.T. Jamison retired and turned the reins over to Dr. Sam M. Smith, who had served for 16 years as his assistant. Dr. Jamison continued to make his home on the campus where he had lived for 46 years among the children he had loved and served so devotedly. Dr. Jamison passed away due to a sudden illness on August 9, 1947.
In 1946, Connie Maxwell Orphanage was officially renamed Connie Maxwell Children’s Home to reflect that most of the children living at Connie Maxwell were not orphans.
In 1950, the alumni swimming pool (part of the Jamison Square Project) was dedicated, and 15 staff members were recognized for their service of 25 years or more to the children’s home. The alumni completed the Jamison Square Project, which consisted of a pool, picnic pavilion, and skating rink.
In 1951, there were 350 children living on campus.
1955 - 1966
God’s Acre Plan Peak Year
God’s Acre Plan experienced a peak year, with more than 1,600,000 pounds of corn, hay, and produce worth an estimated $20,000.
The Ezell Gymnasium burned in 1958. The boys cleaned the remaining bricks for one cent a piece. Some of those bricks were repurposed for the current grounds shop.
Between 1959 - 1960, there were 410 children living at Connie Maxwell. This is the highest number of children that Connie Maxwell has accommodated at one time. There was also a large number of families receiving financial support in order for the children to remain in their own homes.
The cornerstone of the present Connie Maxwell Baptist Church was laid July 11, 1965. The first service was held on May 22, 1966, the 74th anniversary of the first child’s arrival on campus. Memorial gifts, unrestricted legacies, and special gifts from friends provided funds for construction. Ten faceted stained glass windows were a gift from the alumni.
During 1966, 70% of children on campus had both parents living. The average length of stay was three and a half years.
1967 - 1972
75 Year Anniversary
1967 marked the 75th anniversary of Connie Maxwell Children’s Home. During that time, the children’s home grew from one cottage to 22 cottages, 12 service buildings, and 12 staff residences. More than 350 children were under care. In 1892, the cost of operation was a little over $7,000 a year; whereas, the budget for 1966 was approximately $500,000. It is estimated that approximately 4,000 children had been served by Connie Maxwell up to this time period.
Twelve years after the Ezell Gymnasium burned down, the Sam Smith Activities Center was constructed and is still utilized today.
In 1972, Dr. Ed Johnson became the first African American social worker employed by Connie Maxwell Children’s Home. Dr. Johnson, who also continued to serve his congregation at Morris Chapel Baptist, served Connie Maxwell for twenty years. He was instrumental in encouraging collaborative efforts between Connie Maxwell, South Carolina Baptists, and the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina.
1976 - 1977
In the spring of 1976, the Board of Trustees elected John Murdoch as president of Connie Maxwell, replacing Dr. Sam Smith who retired that same year. Dr. Murdoch served in various roles for 36 years at Connie Maxwell. In March 1977, Dr. Murdoch became ill with a form of influenza and died in his sleep while he was attending the Southeastern Child Care Conference. He was 61 years of age.
In September 1977, following the sudden death of Dr. Murdoch, Dr. J. Heyward Prince assumed duties as president of Connie Maxwell. During the administration of Dr. Prince, who served until his death in 1993, Connie Maxwell added crisis homes in Florence and Greenwood to provide safety and compassionate care for children in need of immediate help.
The first African American child was admitted to campus in January 1977. During this time period, no cottage contained more than 8 children.
Mrs. Vera Smith, a cottage mother for 47 years, died on July 28, 1977. At the time of her death, her tenure was thought to be the longest of any cottage staff member in the country.
A new swimming pool was built with funds provided by the Self Family Foundation and the Connie Maxwell Alumni Association.
1980 - 1993
Connie Maxwell Adds Satellite Locations
In 1980, Connie Maxwell opened a satellite location in Greenville called the Earl Street Group Home for Girls.
In 1981, Connie Maxwell acquired the Pee Dee Crisis Center in Florence.
Connie Maxwell established the Adventure Based Counseling program in 1984, as a fun way to build trust, self-esteem, and confidence among children and groups. The program, still utilized today, relies on strategic games, and physical challenges to help groups reach goals.
In 1988, 43 students received residential care at Cooper Nixon, Connie Maxwell’s crisis care cottage.
In 1993, Connie Maxwell continued expanding its presence around the state by acquiring the Brookland Home for Boys in Orangeburg.
In 1993, the Board of Trustees elected Dr. Jimmy McAdams as the next president of Connie Maxwell. Under his leadership, CMCH expanded its services to the Midlands and Lowcountry of South Carolina.
1996 - 1999
Marie Younts Girl’s Home
In 1996, the Earle Street Home for Girls relocated to Mauldin and was renamed the Marie Younts Girl’s Home.
In 1997, Polly Davis, wife of Connie Maxwell Vice President for Development Ben Davis, became coordinator of a volunteer program. She retired on September 1, 2014, after 17 years of service.
The second playground (current) was established where the Convention Building was formerly located.
Neb Cline, an alumnus of Connie Maxwell, generously donated the funds to renovate the Eastern Star Cottage. The renovation was completed in 1999. The building was renamed in honor of Neb Cline and currently houses most of the program staff. Allen Wood, also an alumnus, donated his architectural services for the project, while the Duke Endowment provided funds for the furnishings.
2000 - 2002
Connie Maxwell Christmas
Connie Maxwell Christmas started as a way to thank the Greenwood community and supporters of Connie Maxwell. The event has grown in popularity, with more than 20,000 people visiting the campus each year.
The Connie Maxwell farm at OASIS —Outdoor Adventures Specifically Involving Students— was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1998. In January 2001, the first OASIS program director was hired.
Dr. Ben Davis first became part of the Connie Maxwell family in 1994 as vice president for development. In 2002, he was named president and served for another 12 years. Dr. Ben Davis dramatically improved the organization’s facilities, expanded services, and increased access for children and families in need. He retired on September 1, 2014.
Adams Campus, a crisis shelter for boys and girls, was opened in Chesterfield in 2004. It was named the Adams Campus in honor of Paul Adams, a supporter and alumnus of Connie Maxwell, as well as a former resident of Chesterfield. Adams is a veteran of WWII and served on board the USS Nevada when it was attacked in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
2012 - 2016
Alumni Village Completed
In 2012, the final phase of the Alumni Village at OASIS was completed. This project was adopted by the Alumni Association in 2000 and occurred in three phases, with phase I being completed in 2004 and phase II being completed in 2008. The total project included two bunkhouses, each sleeping 18 people, as well as a full kitchen, bathhouse, and outdoor pavilion.
Rev. Randy Harling, former pastor of First Baptist Church, was named president in 2014. Rev. Harling resigned as president on October 4, 2016. A search is currently underway for the next president of Connie Maxwell Children’s Home
125 Anniversary Candlelight Tour
In March 2017, Connie Maxwell held its first Candlelight Tour, in honor of our 125th anniversary. Guests on this guided walking tour watched six reenactments, which showcased aspects of our treasured history. Another tour is currently being planned for March 2018.
Vice President for Programs
Vice President for Business and Operations
Vice President for Advancement
Board Of Trustees
Connie Maxwell Children’s Home is blessed to have guidance and oversight from a variety of men and women across South Carolina who serve on our Board of Trustees. These individuals are elected by the South Carolina Baptist Convention.