Gillespie-Selden Institute, Cordele

President’s Home, Circa 1925, Gillespie-Selden Institute

The origins of this important landmark of African-American educational history in South Georgia can be traced to Dr. Augustus S. Clark and the St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The first facilities of the school were three wood-framed buildings, built through a gift of the Gillespie family of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1903, and named the Gillespie Normal School in their honor. The first two structures pictured here were built when it was still known as the Gillespie Normal School.

Girls Dormitory, 1929, Gillespie-Selden Institute

In 1933, the school merged with the Selden Institute in Brunswick and the name was changed to the Gillespie-Selden Institute. Over the years, students came from as far away as New York and New Jersey. The Institute closed in 1956 due to citywide consolidation.

Administration Building, 1937, Gillespie-Selden Institute

A hospital was built in 1923 and named for its benefactor, Charles Helms. It was a vital part of the institute. (It is still standing but not pictured here; I will add a photograph later). At the time, the nearest hospital for blacks was in Atlanta. Selden Cottage, pictured below, was a school for nurses, associated with the hospital.

Selden Cottage, 1949, Gillespie-Selden Institute

This neighborhood, and particularly the remaining facilities of the Institute, represent a significant resource of a progressive African-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Preliminary efforts to document and preserve the site have been made, but I’m unsure as to their present status.

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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1 Comment

Filed under --CRISP COUNTY GA--, Cordele GA

One response to “Gillespie-Selden Institute, Cordele

  1. John Ingersoll

    Many thanks Brian! I knew nothing of this history.

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