A young ladies’ finishing school known as the Lawrenceville Female Seminary was established here in 1838. One of the trustees, Daniel Killian, was responsible for its construction. That structure, apparently very similar to this one, was destroyed by fire and was replaced by the present structure in 1855. It served as a seminary until 1886. In its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it was described as simple, rather masculine, late-Federal early-Greek Revival. It is the most significant early public structure surviving in Lawrenceville.
The Lawrenceville Masonic Lodge No. 181 began using the second floor in 1860 and made it their homeuntil the 1970s. Over the years the lower floor was occupied by various tenants and was also used as a public gathering place. It serves as the Gwinnett History Museum today.
If the resource I’ve used is correct, this structure was known as the Johnson cabin and expanded circa 1855 into the present Greek Revival form for use as the headmaster’s home. It is the last surviving significant structure of the Rose Hill Seminary, established by Zion Episcopal Church founder Reverend Richard Johnson, who came to Talbotton in 1846. The expansion of the house may have taken place at the direction of Reverend Wesley Gahagan, who came to Talbotton in 1852 to manage the school. Reverend Gahagan died in 1857 and the school closed soon thereafter. [Thanks to Jim Bruce for further confirming some of this history].
Trae Ingram notes that the house suffered serious damage during a tornado a few years ago.
The Reverend Dr. John L. Phelps (8 December 1866-15 November 1937), a reform-minded Presbyterian minister, established Boggs Academy in 1906, and gave a detailed account of its origins in “A New Institution – Boggs Academy“, published in the June 1911 edition of the Home Mission Monthly, a journal of the Woman’s Executive Committee of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church. It’s amazing that this small, church-based school, established at a time of particularly bad race relations in the South, grew to become one of the most respected black boarding schools in the United States throughout its nearly 80 years of operation.
He wrote: In the early summer of 1906…the idea of a Presbyterian Church and industrial school for colored people in the rural district of Burke County, Georgia, took its beginning...I was anxious to go with my family into the darkest corner, and…work among the negroes of the “quarter” and on the large cotton plantations, were it not for the race prejudice and the misunderstandings that are certain to cause dangerous friction. [I was assured] that the better element of the white people stood ready to co-operate…[with] good wishes and financial help…
A church was opened for worship in the community in December 1906 with eight original members. It was named Morgan Grove Presbyterian Church, for Morgan Walker, who gave the land on which the church was built. I believe it may have been associated with another black Presbyterian congregation known as Spread Oak but haven’t confirmed that yet.
In January 1907, a school was opened within the walls of the church, and named Boggs Academy, for Virginia P. Boggs, who served for many years as the Corresponding Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen.
At the time of Phelps’s 1911 article, the campus consisted of six buildings situated on 40 acres. The Virginia P. Boggs Memorial Hall, which cost $5000 to build, was the main school building. The four acres on which it stood were donated by R. C. Neely of Waynesboro, whom Phelps considered “one of the school’s best friends”. Enrollment was around 100 students, with four teachers. Two were paid by the Freedmen’s Board of the Presbyterian Church and the other two were paid by the Burke County Board of Education. 25% of the students in 1911 were boarders from other communities. Focus in the earliest days was on normal and domestic curriculum, with industrial and agricultural instruction coming later. Boggs Academy held twice-yearly farmers’ conferences to help educate local black farmers on newer and more economical methods of production and they were supported by white farmers in this endeavor.
After a long and prosperous history, Boggs Academy officially ceased operation in 1986. The last class matriculated in 1984. An active alumni association still keeps the history of the institution alive and takes a keen interest in its preservation.
The newest structure on campus, the Phelps Building was constructed during the administration of Dr. Harold N. Stinson.
It is still used by the Boggs Rural Life Center, which was incorporated in 1990
Identifications for structures were found in the Boggs Charrette Report, prepared by the Center for Community Design and Preservation, College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia, prepared for the Boggs Rural Life Center in 2016.
This facility, which housed grades 1-11, was built in the Mission Revival style popular in schoolhouse architecture of the 1920s. The interior remains in fairly good condition; the stucco siding is non-historic and was obviously added later. A full restoration would require removal of the stucco.
The Presbyterian Church had a presence in this area in 1785, before the incorporation of Lexington or the establishment of Oglethorpe County. The missionary spirit which originally brought them to the community perhaps guided Liberty County native Reverend Thomas Goulding (1786-1848) in his creation of the Theological Seminary of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia at this site in 1828. [The structure was built as Goulding’s home circa 1817, though one source dates it to 1808]. The seminary moved to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1830, and remained under the direction of Reverend Goulding until 1834. The name of the school was changed to Columbia Theological Seminary in 1925, and though it moved to Decatur, Georgia, in 1927, it retains that name to this day. Over nearly two centuries, it has produced numerous prominent social, political, and religious leaders.
Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
In 1870, the Freedmen’s School was established as the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick. Colored Memorial High School, designed by Cloister architect Francis L. Abreu, was built adjacent to the Freedmen’s School in 1923* and named to honor African-American veterans of World War I. The Freedmen’s School was replaced by Risley High School in 1936 and served the community until 1955 when a new Risley High School was built elsewhere. It was named Risley School, for Captain Douglas Gilbert Risley, who advocated for the school as the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
*- The 1922 date on the building is the date the cornerstone was laid by Dr. H. R. Butler.
Hearn Academy was established by the Baptists as the Manual Labor School [a permanent school of high order] in 1838, to teach boys agricultural and other life skills. Tuition was paid by work on area farms. A generous endowment from the estate of Lott O. Hearn in 1846, realized from the posthumous sale of 12 slaves, gave the school the name Hearn Manual Labor School.
Reorganized as a more comprehensive institution in 1903, it was renamed Hearn Academy. After a fire, the original school building was replaced with the present structure in 1910. It closed in 1925, with the rise of public state-funded schools in the area.
It remains an anchor of historic Cave Spring and is used for a number of public and private events.
Rolater Park Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
This elementary school, built by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company soon after they opened a factory in Rockmart, is typical of other schools of the era. It is no longer in use. The Rockmart plant of Goodyear Tire & Rubber was responsible, for many years, for the production of the giant balloons used each year in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.