Burnt Fort School (unincorporated county)

Burnt Fort / Mid River SchoolSitting next to Burnt Fort Chapel is the Burnt Fort School.  This one-room schoolhouse was originally built closer to Midriver in 1890 but was later moved to its present location in 1918.  The school housed about 20 students at a time until the area was consolidated with White Oak School in 1922.

Around 1989 James & Mary Vocelle endowed the Burnt Fort School Restoration Project to save one of the last one-room schoolhouses in Camden County.

Funds are limited and so far, the Historical Society has not been able to raise enough to restore the old building.  Some measures have been taken to preserve what is left.  The building has been raised on blocks since the above picture was taken.  In addition, the building was treated for termites.Burnt Fort / Mid River School Window

The local newspaper (Tribune and Georgian Oct. 13, 1999) ran an article about these preservation efforts.  In this article, they state that they believe this is the last one-room schoolhouse in Camden.

The following is from a write-up available at the Bryan-Lang Library.  At the end is information for donating to the restoration fund:

The Burnt Fort Schoolhouse was built about 1900 by men in the Midriver Community.  The first location was across Gelzer Branch near the J.O. Dyal summer house.  By 1918 consolidation had begun in the county and this building was moved to its present location just east of the Burnt Fort Chapel and Cemetery.  The building was moved by an ox team and took three days to go approximately four miles.  Andrew B. Godley and John A. Wells were in charge of moving.  Oxen were furnished by J.O. Dyal and attended by P.C. Brown.

Students in 1918 numbered about 20 in grades 1-8.  Among the teachers were:  Mary Schmidt (Mrs. James Vocelle), Agnes Liles, Edna Moody, and Mary Lee Clark who went on to become Supt. of Camden Schools and who later had a school in Camden named for her.  The School was consolidated with White Oak about 1922 and for several years afterwards the building served as a residence for school bus driver, Harbin Liles and his wife.  It has been abandoned many years and is now feeling and looking its many years, mainly because the wooden foundation blocks rotted away and the building rested on the ground and became termite infected.

Burnt Fort / Mid River SchoolBut new life is on the way! Because of renewed interest, mostly due to a "Remember When" article in the Tribune & Georgian of Camden County dated 23 July 1999, the school has now been raised and new blocks placed beneath it.  The area has been termite treated and replacement of the sills and damaged siding are next on the "want" list.  A fund, "seed money", was given by the Vocelle family as a memorial to their mother, and this fund is now being added to by concerned and caring people who want to see this only remaining one-room school of Camden County preserved and cared for in order that future generations can share this rich heritage.  Many have come forward with offers of money, labor and material.  Won't you join them?  This is truly a project worthy of you consideration, time and money.  This Chapel, Cemetery, and School must be preserved and taken care of; at one time, donations were being accepted for the restoration project to this address:

Rt. 1, Box 157-B
Waynesville, GA 31566
Check payable to:  BURNT FORT SCHOOL RESTORATION

I have no information on whether or not this is still good information as of December 2011; this article was originally written in 1999 by Tara Fields.

 

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