The architecture of this rural schoolhouse, between The Rock and Thomaston, led me to think it was a Rosenwald, but it just has similar features. It has been identified by Cynthia Jennings as the Ben Hill School. It is very endangered. It was likely built between 1910-1930 to serve African-American children in the community.
The Johnstonville School is a landmark of rural education and an excellent example of the use of the Craftsman style in public architecture.
The school closed in 1945 [one source dates the closure to 1939]. It serves as the Johnstonville Community Clubhouse today.
The Johnstonville Women’s Club was organized in 1924 and helped oversee the care of the school and were involved in the preservation of the historic structure for many years.
Johnstonville-Goggins Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
A sign on the back of this structure identifies it as a school. It’s a great example of rural school architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has been nicely preserved.
Though I cannot locate a specific history, a state historical survey notes that this rural African-American schoolhouse near Warthen was built and administered by the adjacent Middle Hill Missionary Baptist Church. The church was operating a school as early as the 1870s though this structure dates to the early 20th century.
The inward triangular entryway is a fascinating feature.
This historic Christian Methodist Episcopal congregation likely dates to the late 19th century. An architectural survey dates the church building to circa 1915. A cemetery is also located on the property.
Down a short lane from the chapel stands this one-room schoolhouse, typical of church-associated African-American communities in Georgia from the late-19th to the mid-20th century. This structure probably dates from 1910-1930.
While photographing in Camden County with Cynthia Jennings yesterday, I met Mr. Marshall Glover. Mr. Glover is leading the work of restoring the historic Kinlaw Rosenwald School, which was built in 1921. The formal education of African-American children in Kinlaw began in a one-room schoolhouse built on the site in 1896.
The African-American community of Kinlaw was very progressive and embraced better education for its children. Upon learning of the existence of the Rosenwald grants from Matilda Harris, Camden County’s supervisor of black schools, the people of Kinlaw began exploring the possibility of replacing their schoolhouse with a better facility. They raised $909 and with matching contributions and grants began construction on this structure in 1920, with the first classes beginning in 1921. The school offered instruction for children from first to seventh grade and was one of three Rosenwald facilities in the county. Kinlaw is the only one that survives today.
Mr. Glover told me that his father and grandfather both attended the school and that he was glad to be doing the restoration as a way of honoring them. He noted that he has been working for over a year and spent much of that time caulking the tongue-and-groove paneling. He pointed out that the excellent material and construction of the school has been evident during the restoration, with much of the work being cosmetic. He stated that there were some parts of the floor that were compromised due to leaks in the old roof, but they are getting to that work now. With a team of volunteers, he has done an excellent job.
Please consider a contribution to continue this important work. Secure donations can be made here.
This schoolhouse is part of the Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm and is just down the road from the main house and sharecropper’s village. Alex and Emory Shields, grandsons of James Shields, donated two acres for the construction of the school and it was named the Bachelors’ Academy in their honor. Ira had been a teacher himself in his younger days and believed strongly in education. In 1938, when Jackson County consolidated its rural schools, the Bachelors’ Academy became a school for African-American children, and Ira provided the teacher housing in the sharecroppers’ village. The school was in used until 1950 and was restored in 1996.
Shields-Etheridge Farm, National Register of Historic Places
The congregation who built this typical late-19th century house of worship organized in the idyllic Apple Valley community in 1887 and raised this structure the next year. It is thought to have also been used as a schoolhouse.
Harrell Lawson’s History of St. Pau CME Church  describes the two-story meetinghouse adjacent to the church as a building previously used as a school for the secular education of the youth of the community and as a meeting place for Masons and a burial society founded by St. Paul members in the early 1900’s.
A resource survey conducted in 2001 dates the structure to circa 1870. It was built in the school/lodge combination common among African-American congregations in this part of Georgia in the late 19th century. These structures inevitably served as de facto community centers, as well. No matter when they were built, they are important resources.