Tag Archives: South Georgia African-American History & Culture

Barney Colored Elementary School, 1933

The Morven Rosenwald Alumni Association, with the cooperation of the Georgia Historical Society and the Brooks County Board of Commissioners restored this important resource in 2013. The marker placed at the site reads:  Barney Colored Elementary School was part of the Rosenwald school building program that matched funds from philanthropist Julius Rosenwald with community donations to build rural Southern schools during the era of segregation.  An example of a “community school plan,” it included large banks of windows, an industrial room, and sliding partition doors to accommodate larger school and community gatherings.  This combined a Progressive-era design emphasis on lighting and ventilation with educator Booker T. Washington’s focus on community development and industrial training for rural African Americans. The school operated from 1933 to 1959, serving first through sixth grade students.  One of six Rosenwald projects in Brooks County, Barney served as a feeder school to the Morven Rosenwald School. In 2006, the Morven Rosenwald Alumni Association, Inc. acquired the building and preserved it for community use.

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Filed under --BROOKS COUNTY GA--, Barney GA

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

St. Paul Presbyterian Church, Circa 1900, Cordele

St. Paul Presbyterian is one of four historic churches in the Gillespie-Selden Historic District and the congregation most associated with the institute. Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959), the founder of the school, came to Cordele as a Presbyterian missionary in 1898. His first charge was to aid the struggling Portis Memorial Presbyterian Church and as a result of his work funding was secured for the construction of the present church, which was named St. Paul. It was in the basement of this church (which has since been expanded) that Dr. Clark first began teaching elementary school classes along with Sunday School. Dr. Clark was alarmed by the inadequate educational facilities for African-American students and made an appeal to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church for funding for a school and through the donation of Presbyterians in Northern states, funds were soon secured.

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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

Folk Victorian House, Cordele

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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

Mt. Dollaway A. M. E. Church, Telfair County

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Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--

Mt. Zion Primitive Church, Wilkinson County

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Filed under --WILKINSON COUNTY GA--

Davis Chapel Baptist Church, Wheeler County

This church is located just past the Towns community and near the Telfair-Wheeler county line.

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--