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Georgia College joins partnership to restore historic Sallie Davis House

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October 15, 2008

large photo Georgia College has announced a partnership with the Sallie Davis Foundation to renovate the historic Sallie Davis House in Milledgeville and open it as an African-American cultural center.

The building, located at 301 Clark St., was home to Sallie E. Davis, who is recognized as one of the region's pioneering black educators. Because of the building's deteriorated condition, it has been newly included on the "Places in Peril" list maintained by The Georgia Trust, thanks to its nomination by Milledgeville MainStreet.

"Through this partnership we will work to preserve the legacy of a great educator who committed herself to nourishing the minds of the community's African-American youth at a time when true equality was still many years off," said Georgia College President Dorothy Leland. "Through the creation of this cultural center, we will seek to sustain the inspiration that Sallie Davis gave to all of those she touched during her remarkable life."

Davis was born just outside Milledgeville in the mid-1870s and attended the Eddy School, which served the African-American students of Baldwin County. She decided early to pursue a career in education and enrolled in the teacher-training program at Atlanta University. After receiving her degree, she returned to the Eddy School to teach mathematics and serve as an administrator. Eventually she became its principal and remained in that position for 27 years until her retirement in 1948.

The Sallie Davis Academy of the Baldwin County School District is named in her honor. In 2000, she was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement, a nonprofit organization honoring extraordinary women of Georgia's history.

"By preserving the Sallie Davis House as a cultural center, we will provide an important link to the contributions African-Americans have made to our community," said Carolyn Thomas, a member of the Sallie Davis Foundation. "It's important for today's youth -- and the coming generations -- to know about people like Sallie Davis… people who laid the foundation upon which they stand today."

The home was nominated to be placed on the "Places in Peril" list through the efforts of Milledgeville MainStreet, a public/private partnership created to preserve the heritage of Milledgeville and guide its future.

"Including the Sallie Davis House on the ‘Places in Peril' list will allow the building to receive a high level of preservation assistance," said Frank Pendergast, Chair of Milledgeville MainStreet. "By acting now, we can make sure this historic structure continues the legacy of Sallie Davis, providing important educational resources about the community's black heritage and history."

The building was constructed in the late 1800's, although the exact date appears to be uncertain. Davis lived in the home from 1910 until her death in 1950. Georgia College purchased the building in 1989. In 1990, several of her former students formed the Sallie Davis Foundation to preserve her home and create a cultural center that would highlight her contributions to the community.

The new partnership will oversee the formation of a steering committee that will guide the restoration project. The committee's first initiative is to access the condition of the building and determine the work needed and the estimated cost. The committee will then work to raise the money to restore the property and develop it as a cultural center that will be open to Georgia College students and the community.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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