As The Georgia Trust marks its 50th anniversary, we take immense pride in sharing the remarkable journey of one of our most successful preservation projects – the rehabilitation of the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse in Washington, Georgia. This milestone not only represents half a century of our commitment to preserving the state’s rich historic heritage but also exemplifies the power of community, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of self-determination.
Constructed c.1910, the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse stands as a rare surviving example of an early 20th-century rural African American school building in Georgia, and its restoration is a source of immense celebration and inspiration. This one-room schoolhouse is on the grounds of the Cherry Grove Baptist Church, which was established in 1875, and was part of the 175th school district for the farming children of Danburg and Sandtown. The building was in use from 1910 to 1956.
After a long period of deterioration, the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse became the center of a preservation initiative headed by the Friends of Cherry Grove School, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit, in 2015. The building had a collapsed roof that had broken through the floor, termite damage, and broken joists. Moreover, the structure leaned due to the uneven ground, and one of its piers, a crucial part of the foundation, had fallen apart. In 2021, the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse was placed on The Georgia Trust’s “Places in Peril” list, highlighting its precarious state and the urgency of its restoration.
Despite the daunting challenges, the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse has undergone a remarkable transformation. The rehabilitation project, initiated by the Friends of Cherry Grove School, Inc., was a testament to their unwavering commitment and passion. It was a labor of love that required vision, dedication, and substantial efforts. The building was carefully restored to its former glory, ensuring that its historic significance is preserved for the future.
Fast forward to 2023, and it was an incredible moment of pride when the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse received the Marguerite Williams Award, the highest honor bestowed by The Georgia Trust. This award recognizes projects that have had the most significant impact on preservation in the state, and it underscores the exceptional achievement of the restoration efforts.
Today, the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse serves as a significant heritage tourism site, not only for Wilkes County but for the entire state of Georgia. It stands as a symbol of the African American community’s invaluable contributions to education and architecture. The Cherry Grove Schoolhouse is not just a piece of the past but living proof of the perseverance and resilience of a community dedicated to preserving its history.
The preservation of the Cherry Grove Schoolhouse is a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to preserve its rich heritage. As The Georgia Trust celebrates its 50th anniversary, we look back with great pride at the successful rehabilitation of this historic landmark. It is a story of determination, resilience, and the enduring power of history to inspire and unite. The Cherry Grove Schoolhouse’s rehabilitation is not just a preservation project; it’s a celebration of Georgia’s rich cultural heritage and a symbol of the bright future that lies ahead.
Support the work of the Georgia Trust and programs like our Places in Peril d by Becoming a Member today!
See more about the history of the Georgia Trust on our 50th Anniversary blog Celebrating 50.