From is construction in 1852 until the 1920s, this little one-room schoolhouse served students of Dorchester Village. It was located adjacent to the Dorchester Presbyterian Church and was all but lost when the Selectmen of the Midway Church and Society saved and relocated it to the “new” Dorchester School nearby. This photograph dates to 2011.
Tag Archives: Schoolhouses of Coastal Georgia
Established in 1832, St. Bartholomew’s is the oldest active African-American Episcopal congregation in Georgia. The Episcopal church was actively pursuing the evangelization of slaves by the early 1830s. In 1832, a white family in the area initiated religious education for its slaves and by 1845, the bishop appointed the Reverend William G. Williams as the area’s first official pastor. He established a church and school on the three plantations he served and was so successful that by 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, his congregation was the largest, black or white, in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
A gift of $400 from St. Barholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City to the Ogeechee Mission Congregation in 1881 helped stimulate interest in the construction of a permanent home. The present structure was consecrated in 1896 and named in honor of its first major patrons. The St. Barholomew’s Day School was constructed in 1897. It was operated by the church until 1916 at which time Chatham County rented the building and took over its operation. It was closed as a school in 1951 and has since served as the parish hall.
Known officially today as St. Bartholomew’s Chapel, the church which was once so integral to the life of the Burroughs community still meets on a limited schedule.
National Register of Historic Places
The recent restoration of this historic African-American schoolhouse is one of the greatest preservation successes on the Georgia coast and should serve as a model for similar projects. After the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation economy, the descendants of enslaved persons remained on St. Simons and lived in the communities of South End, Jewtown, and Harrington. They were the dominant population on St. Simons until development in the early and mid-20th century changed the racial makeup of the island. Only remnants of their presence remain, and among them, the Harrington Graded School (thought to be a Rosenwald school), and Hazel’s Cafe, are the most significant.
The school served all three African-American communities until desegregation in the 1960s and was briefly used as a day care center until being abandoned in the early 1970s. It was eventually purchased by Glynn County and the St. Simons Land Trust but due to deterioration, it was slated for demolition in 2010. The Land Trust and the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition formed the Friends of Harrington School and saved the school house. Serious work began in 2015 and by December 2016, the school was restored to its former glory.
Located adjacent to Burnt Fort Church, this schoolhouse was moved by oxcart in 1918 from the nearby Mid River community. Closed in 1922 and in disrepair for many decades, it was saved through the efforts of Stokes Davis and the Burnt Fort Chapel, Cemetery & Historical Association around 2001.
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and the adjacent Good Shepherd Parochial School are essentially all that remain of the historic Pennick community, a settlement of the descendants of freed slaves. Like Needwood Church and School, also located in Glynn County, they represent a rare church/school complex in relatively original condition. I’m hopeful they’ll both be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the near future.
The school was founded by Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (1865-1947), who took very seriously the education of her community and became the first black deaconess in the Episcopal Church in 1907. In 1999, she was named a Saint of Georgia, with a feast day of 24 September.
Deaconess Alexander’s life was forever interwoven with her faith. She lived in this apartment (above right) and is buried in front of the school house. Follow this link to see a video tribute to the deaconess by people who knew her personally. It’s quite interesting.
I recently acquired this postcard, mailed by Deaconess Alexander from the Fort Valley High & Industrial School (forerunner to Fort Valley State College) to Dean Richard of the Bishop Tuttle House in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1931.
Located near Eulonia in the Bolden community [sometimes referred to as Briar Patch], this vernacular landmark was built by Joseph Palmer in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Throughout its history it has served as a community center and schoolhouse but is perhaps best known as a praise house.
The praise house is locally known as the “Bolden Lodge”. It’s shaded yard is still a popular gathering place in this tiny community and it has long been associated with the world-famous McIntosh County Shouters.