Reborn as African-American cultural center
Sallie Ellis Davis House
3 p.m. Tuesday, April 10
301 S. Clarke St.
Its rebuilt brick-supported wooden columns and freshly finished front porch present the first signs that the Sallie Ellis
Davis House is reborn.
The carefully landscaped lawn and newly-shuttered windows invite guests inside to view the renovation workmanship that offers glimpses of the 1890 house as its owner would have known it.
Inside, the tongue-and-groove walls, the hardwood floors and the four mantels resurrect the home of Sallie Ellis Davis,
a local educator who touched the lives of hundreds of children.
“We as a university and community have succeeded in this wonderful project restoring the historic home of the influential
educator who spent a lifetime teaching hundreds of local African-American children both academic and life lessons,” said
Interim President Stas Preczewski. “The reuse of this home on the Georgia College campus as an African-American cultural
center will serve the university for generations to come.”
The Georgia College & State University Foundation; Georgia College Campus Operations department; Garbutt/Christman
Construction and Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architecture teamed up to work on the project.
“The team effort joining university and community members in this common goal has been truly remarkable,” said Amy Amason, vice president for external relations and university advancement. “Businesses and individuals donated time, supplies, manpower and funds to make this project a reality.”
Alumnus and Georgia College Foundation member Pierre Clements, ’86, who co-chaired the steering committee with
Melanie Cook to raise funds, said the hard work was worthwhile.
“The momentum for the project from local businesses and charitable foundations has been very strong,” he said. “Consequently, we were able to complete the project in just three short years.”
The Sallie Ellis Davis House built in 1890 served as Davis’ residence from 1912 until her death in 1950. The house on South Clarke Street was used as a residence until 1989, when the University System of Georgia Board of Regents purchased it.
The transformation of the 123-year-old home into an African–American cultural center began in June 2009 just months
after The Georgia Trust listed the educator’s home as a “Place in Peril.” Former President
Dorothy Leland and Carolyn Thomas, chair of the Sallie Ellis Davis Foundation, announced a partnership in October 2008
to save the historic house.
With the landscaping and the final yards of sod in place, the Sallie Ellis Davis House stands ready for its new mission.
The African-American cultural center will recreate the house in the two front rooms — a parlor furnished with period sofa,
chairs, tables and lamps; and a classroom with student walnut-and-wrought-iron desks, bookcases filled with early education materials and a chalkboard.
The hallway will display before and after images of the renovation and information about Sallie Ellis Davis and her teachings.
“The two forward rooms recreate Sallie Ellis Davis’ home and a historic classroom we will use for historic interpretation,” said Dr.Mark Pelton, Georgia College’s associate vice president for extended university. “The center honors Sallie Ellis Davis and her dedication to educating her students.”
A modern-day classroom equipped with Wi-Fi and SMART board technology, a meeting/banquet room and small kitchen
are located in the back of the center.
“The cultural center offers both a historic center and space for gatherings and instruction,” said Matt Davis, curator of the
Old Governor’s Mansion and the cultural center. “It will help educate us about early African-American education in Baldwin
County and prepare us to educate students for generations."
This project included a volunteer cleanup day that brought Georgia College and community volunteers together to salvage an estimated 4,500 bricks for reuse in the reconstruction. It also found workers using steel beams and cranes to raise the house
off its failing foundation to make way for new support columns.
Brick masons mortared those salvaged bricks into foundation supports, fireplaces and chimneys. A new roof was installed and an addition was constructed on the back of the house.
Workers completed the interior with wall and ceiling insulations, plastering and painting; replaced flooring, window and door trims; and installed countertops, cupboards and light and bathroom fixtures. Sidewalks and landscaping were completed.