The Harrington Schoolhouse, formerly known as the Harrington Grade School, was built in the 1920’s and served as the main educational structure for the three African-American communities on St. Simons Island. The school taught about 15 to 40 children, often divided into two groups of younger and older grade levels, until Glynn County schools were desegregated in the 1960s. After desegregation, Harrington’s students were bused to schools on the mainland.
In 1968, the schoolhouse was converted to a day care center and used for this purpose until 1970. The physical structure had deteriorated, but the rich history still lives strong in the minds of historians, the local community, and former students of the school.
The St. Simons Land Trust purchased the school in 2005, saving it from developers. In 2010, the schoolhouse was listed on the Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril. In 2011, the St. Simon’s African American Heritage Coalition acquired a lease for the property to restore the deteriorating wood structure.
Hansen Architects joined the project team in 2011 and began extensive research on the schoolhouse and its current condition. After documenting the existing conditions, plans were created to restore the exterior and interior of the building, as well as improvements to meet accessibility codes and to add free-standing restroom facilities.
The building’s foundation is supported by old-growth 2×12 timbers that run 24 to 26 feet in length. They came from heart pine trees that have since been lumbered out of existence in Georgia. The interior wood flooring and wall paneling have been refinished and replaced where needed.
The exterior received masonry work on the piers and perimeter with existing brick being repointed and new brick being added where needed to match the existing. A new, metal roof was put on the building to ensure the interior would not continue to receive damage. The front porch was reconstructed based on historic photos. All windows and exterior doors were repaired or reconstructed as needed.
As the oldest surviving educational structure for African-Americans on the island, the restoration and preservation of the Harrington Schoolhouse are of critical importance.
Built in the 1920’s
Main educational structure for the three African-American communities on St. Simons Island
In 2010, the schoolhouse was listed on the Georgia Trust’s Places in Peril