Massie Heritage Center

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Webpage: Museum

General Description: Opening in 1956, Massie was the first public school in Georgia.  It began with a $5000 endowment from George Massie in 1941 to build a school for the poor in Savannah.  The city invested the money in railroad and gas company stock and by 1956 it had grown to over $14000 which was enough to build and run the school.  The School served the city for over 100 years with a break during the Civil War.  It is built in the Greek Revival Style with separate wings for boys and girls.  Even though there was a common classroom for the eight grades the boys and girls were kept separate from each other.  Today it houses the Massie Heritage Center that includes exhibits on the pre-history of the area, history of Savannah, and the efforts in historic preservation of the historic district.  Notable is the 1/50 scale reproduction of the historic district showing all current buildings and squares.  The reproduction is often used by city planners when discussing any changes to the city.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) It was interesting how they kept the boys and girls separate, each with their own wings and a common classroom.  Outside they even had their own separate bathroom facilities.

2) There is an interesting exhibit that compares the city plan designed by Olgethorpe to other examples of planned cities in Europe.  The exhibit on the preservation of the historic district was also interesting with photographs of the buildings before and after restoration, as well as, photographs of buildings that were torn down in the 1950s for modernization efforts of downtown.

3) I found it interesting that after the occupation of Savannah by General Sherman, the Massie School for a short period of time was a school for black children.  Lack of public funding eventually changed the school back to an all-white school.

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