This institute grew out of an 1866 school for freedmen; it became Brainerd Institute in 1868 and operated until 1941. From its founding until the turn of the century Brainerd was the only school available for African American children in Chester, and it provided the only high school education until the 1920s.
Kumler Hall, A two-story boys' dormitory constructed c. 1916, is the last remaining building of Brainerd Institute.
Brainerd was named for David Brainerd, an early Presbyterian missionary among the Indians in Massachusetts. The school offered vocational, industrial, mechanical, classical, college preparatory, and teacher training at a time when public education for local African American children was deficient or nonexistent.