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.
Chartered by an act of the General Assembly on February 1, 1788,Glynn Academy is the second-oldest public high school in the South and one of the oldest in the United States. The wooden building pictured above (public domain image, via Wikipedia) and below dates to 1840. It is thought to be the oldest standing wooden public school structure in Georgia and the second oldest in the United States. Also, it is the only extant antebellum structure in Glynn County. In its early history it served as a temporary courthouse for Glynn County, as well. It was moved to Sterling in 1915, where it was used as a school for African-Americans until desegregation and was returned to this location in 2008 and is now used as an interpretive museum.
Several historic structures make up the campus of Glynn Academy, which is one of two high schools in Glynn County.
The Annex Building dates to 1889, and was designed by Alfred Eichberg. A lightning strike did severe damage to the structure in 2005. It has been completely remodeled and remains a vital part of the campus.
The Prep Junior High School Building is perhaps the most recognizable structure on the campus. Built in 1909 to house sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, it was later annexed by Glynn Academy.
Architect Hendrik Wallin designed the eponymous Glynn Academy Building, which was erected as a memorial to Glynn County’s World War I veterans. It was completed in 1923 and today is the school’s main administrative building.
The A. V. Wood Gymnasium was built in 1928 to advance physical education at Glynn Academy. Though supplanted by a more modern gym, it is still in use today.
National Register of Historic Places
The Hudson community is largely forgotten today, but in the 1870s and 1880s some of the first commercial shrimpers in McIntosh County, mostly local freedmen, made it a thriving African-American enclave. This venerable structure is among its last tangible landmarks.
A mission of the Union Brothers & Sisters was established here in 1887. The present structure, thought to date to circa 1900, was built to replace the original, which was lost to fire. It also served as a schoolhouse for a time. The last owners were the Hudson Home Society, a fraternal group who assisted local African-Americans with burial insurance.
This is among the most historically important African-American vernacular schoolhouses still standing in Georgia, similar in style to the Needwood School in Glynn County.
Seabrook Village is a recreated African-American community, and one of the most unique living history museums in Georgia. While it may seem abandoned and in a state of disrepair, it’s actually an authentic look into the challenges most black Georgians faced on a daily basis from the first generation after slavery until the 1930s. The Seabrook community was established through land grants dictated in General William T. Shermans Field Order 15 in 1865. This was the policy which became known as “Forty Acres and a Mule” and it afforded many former slaves the opportunity to settle land they had once worked as laborers.