Tag Archives: Historic Black Schools

Union Baptist Parsonage, Circa 1870, Augusta

This was built by the Greene Street Methodist Church circa 1870 as a school for Black children and a parsonage. It also served the Union Baptist Church as a parsonage and was later used as a rental property.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Acworth Rosenwald School, 1924

The Acworth Rosenwald School was originally located on School Street but when Cobb County planned to demolish it in the late 1940s, the community came together and moved it to its present location on Cherokee Street and rebuilt it board by board. It served as a gathering place for Acworth’s Black community, but went through periods of disuse over the years. Due to the efforts of Cobb Landmarks, it has been preserved and is now owned by the city of Acworth. It continues to serve the community.

Bruce Street School Ruins, 1938, Lithonia

Also known as the Lithonia Colored School, the Bruce Street School was opened in 1938 as the first public school for Black children in Lithonia. It was built as a community effort, with granite from local quarries. These ruins are presently the subject of community input for future use.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Hickory Grove School, Hancock County

Hickory Grove was one of numerous schools for African-American children in rural Hancock County, and though it resembles a Rosenwald, no records can be found to indicate such a connection. It’s more likely that builders, aware of the functional designs of the Rosenwald schools, simply copied their floor plans. Hickory Grove was associated with the adjacent Hickory Grove [Missionary] Baptist Church and likely dates to the 1920s.

Consolidation of rural schools, both white and black, was responsible for hundreds of such closures from the late 1940s through the mid 1960s and concern over desegregation certainly accelerated this process. Hickory Grove, as well as 14 other Hancock County African-American schools, was officially closed in January 1960.

Rowland Grove School, Burke County

This historic school is located on the edge of the Ivanhoe Plantation. It is built in the typical vernacular style of late-19th- and early-20th-century rural schoolhouses and churches.

Boggs Academy, Burke County

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.

Boggs Dining Hall, 1924, rear view. This structure, the oldest remaining on campus, is in immediate need of stabilization.

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…

Morgan Chapel and Manse Across the street from the Boggs Memorial Building. Published in the Home Mission Monthly, June 1911. Public domain. [This building burned in the late 1920s* and was replaced with the Memorial . -*Some sources note that Morgan Chapel burned in 1930; however, a bronze plaque on the Blackburn building dates to 1928.]

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.

Virginia Boggs Memorial Hall near Keysville, Burke County, Georgia April 1910. Published in the Home Mission Monthly, June 1911. Public domain. [This building has long been lost though I’m unsure as to a date].

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.

Rev. John I. Blackburn Memorial, 1928
John I. Blackburn Presbyterian Church, (Annex), 1962

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.

Boggs Academy President’s House, 1928

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.

Dairy Building
C. W. Francis Community House (Gymnasium), 1958. Named for Rev. C. W. Francis, a former superintendent.
Classroom Wing & Shop, 1950s. This structure was used for vehicle maintenance, Shop classes, and the Home Economics and Science laboratory.
Swimming Pool & Pool House, 1973
Mural, 2007
Phelps Building, 1967. Toombs, Amisano & Wells, Architects.

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.

Restoration of the Kinlaw Rosenwald School, Camden County

Marshall Glover

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.

Old Mt. Olive Baptist Church & School, Circa 1909, Jefferson County

This historic African-American congregation is still active and this structure is adjacent to the associated cemetery. I am unaware of the history of the church, but it is possible that itwas established by former slaves of the Old Town plantation, located nearby.

This structure is located near the old church, and may have been a schoolhouse. Near the newer church is also a structure which appears to have been a school. I hope to learn more.

Rosenwald School & Marian Anderson Library, 1926, Blackshear

The Blackshear Rosenwald School was built between 1925-1926 to provide a good education for African-American children.

When the school moved into a more modern facility [red building visible at left], the building became the Marian Anderson Library and served the community for many years. It is presently in stable condition, but restoration as a community center or museum would be the best way to insure its future.

The class of 1948 placed two brick gateposts in front of the school. This one contains a marble plaque identifying the graduates: J. B. Twyne; H. J. Lofton; C. S. Britton; T. F. Gibson; A. Fulmore; L. M. Harris; D. A. Deal; and L. Sellers. V. R. McClain was the advisor and S. D. Tarver was the principal.

New Bethel School, Veazey

I’ve only been able to determine that this was a schoolhouse associated with New Bethel A. M. E. Church at Leslie Mill. The style indicates early 20th century construction. It’s a significant historical school, from a time when churches set the standard for the education of African-American children.