Press "Enter" to skip to content

Reunion nostalgia: Memories of GGS building

By Evelyn G. Bush (Editor’s note: The late Mrs. Bush penned this opinion piece in 1985.) Memories of an old building, as the memories of an old friend, never die. Bricks may tumble, wood go up in smoke, windows may shatter, foundations may crumble, but memories live on and on. So it is with the ‘old grammar school,’ which also is the ‘old Gordon Institute’ in Barnesville. A stroll down memory lane will bring tears to the eyes of many, many Barnesville natives and others who attended school in the former handsome structure. The grand old building which has seen young people come and go throughout many decades, seems to call out and tell us that any progress causes change and its time has come for that change. ’I was a sick, old building,” it would tell us, ‘and it was my desire to give way to progress. I didn’t want to be an eyesore for Barnesville. I had served my purpose, and served it well, for thousands of Barnesville children, as well as Gordon cadets, in my earlier years, and I deserve a better fate than to be allowed to die a slow, mouldering death.’ Other memories: The year was 1917, the month was May, the world was in turmoil, and I was scared to death. I was about to embark on a teaching career, as I was a member of the graduating class of the State Normal School in Athens (a branch of the University of Georgia), along with the 400 other graduates. However, I was happy that I was secure for the immediate future, having signed a contract to teach in a small north Georgia town. To my utter consternation, one morning I received a call to report to the office of the president, Dr. Jere Pound, the man loved (and feared) by all the students. ‘What in the world have I done?’ We all were intimidated by Dr. Pound, a mere mortal, and we all respected and loved him. So, it was with fear and trembling that I reached his office. ’Evelyn,’ he said, ‘do you have a place to teach next year?” With a sign of relief, I told him of my plans. ‘I want you to go to Barnesville,’ he said. ’Ask for a release of your contract in this other place. They won’t mind. It’s done frequently.’ Dr. Pound had served as president of Gordon for two terms and he knew practically everyone here. I was stunned. ‘Why, Dr. Pound, do you want me to go to Barnesville?’ He said, ‘Well, I know you would like Barnesville and I hope they will like you over there, so I am going to write Walter Smith (Walter B. Smith Sr. was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the schools then) and tell him that I’m sending you to him, and to take good care of you.’ Well, that did it. I would have crawled to Barnesville if necessary. After some bit of maneuvering, my dream was realized. I came to Barnesville, taught third grade in the grammar school, married the major, and have lived here ever since, to my unalloyed joy. And thereby hangs this tale! In 1917, the building now being razed was at that time Gordon Military Institute, having had the designation of a military school in 1890-91. There the school remained until 1933 when a great good fortune was experienced. The state deeded the Sixth District Agricultural and Mechanical School property to the city of Barnesville after those schools were abandoned. This was a bonanza for Gordon, because of having attained junior college status, it was growing rapidly. All of the buildings, and the splendid campus, and other lands were included in the gift. The building now being demolished became the grammar school, which also was a welcome move. Prior to that time the grammar school was housed in a large wooden structure adjacent to Gordon. Three other buildings were in the lineup on the property between Greenwood Street and Thomaston Street. Those three buildings included the enormous and valuable auditorium, the like of which was no other small town in Georgia’s claim. When the auditorium burned, it was a tragic loss to Barnesville. The building was the hub of activities here. At that time there was no television, no other forms of small town entertainment except that which residents created for themselves and Barnesville people were extremely adept at the business of hometown plays, concerts and the like. Every school morning the three schools, Gordon’s High School, the grammar school, the primary school and the secondary grades of the system, met in the auditorium for chapel exercises over which the president of Gordon, as well as the superintendent of all three schools presided. The fact of this situation was an enigma to the State Department of Education and its representatives who visited the schools. They threw up their hands and gave up trying to untangle the unique situation. When graduation time came at Gordon, the spacious auditorium furnished plenty of room for parents and relatives of the cadets. People came from all over the United States, from California to New York, and from Cuba, Central America and Puerto Rico, and the grand old Barnesville Hotel housed them. (That grand old hotel stood on Forsyth Street directly across from the City Hall, and was itself a treasured building.) Those days of Gordon’s contributions, of furnishing colorful participation to any of Barnesville’s public affairs, are well remembered by the natives here. With parades led by 500 young men in military regalia, with a full band at the head, willing to blow horns and beat drums, lent a festive air to many occasions and formed a picture long remembered. The proximity of the schools to the Carnegie Library was a boom to the institutions. The library served as something, of a study hall to the Gordon students, and many a foot has been pushed off a library table as the librarian passed by, and many a ‘hush-hush’ has been ordered, but the librarians, through the years, never reported a misdemeanor in all those times. So that is a tiny bit of the ‘old grammar school’s’ story. Now the Gordon Junior College is basking in an era of great success, having inherited the name of its forerunner, and growing under the leadership of a splendid president and faculty. Beautiful buildings, a campus second to none in Georgia, and a cordial and well received relationship to all of Barnesville. And, Barnesville’s star also has risen. A new consolidated Lamar County Comprehensive High School enjoys beautiful buildings and surroundings, a splendid team of faculty members, serious minded students, all under the leadership of a fine superintendent, leaves us grateful that dear ‘old Gordon’s’ descendants are ‘well and doing well’ educationwise. After teaching at Gordon Mrs. Bush was a writer with the News Gazette as well as The Herald Gazette after the two newspapers merged. She wrote the Society News and Barnesville Personals for many years.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021