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Historical Markers

Statesboro High and Industrial School

Location: 114 Martin Luther King Jr Dr. Statesboro, Georgia

County: Bulloch

Coordinates: 32.453516, -81.789274

Dedicated: October 27, 2019

Marker Type: Bulloch County Historical Society



   The origins of the Statesboro High and Industrial School can be

traced to the early 1900s. The African American community's vision to

organize a high school for their children in Bulloch County took shape

in 1905 when a group of citizens purchased land at this site. The facility

that opened in 1908 became known as the City Colored School, with

educator William James (1872-–1935), who had attended Atlanta Baptist

Seminary (now Morehouse College), serving as head.


    Despite unequal public funding, James sustained operations and

financed building projects with assistance from philanthropic interests

including Rosenwald, Slater, and Jeanes Funds, the Knox and Crane

families, and Quaker abolitionist Emily Howland, for whom a dormitory

was named. An industrial laboratory was added in 1910 and the school

became the Statesboro High and Industrial School. A 1924 fire destroyed

two buildings. The school re-emerged through community fundraising

efforts and by 1930 was one of the few accredited high schools for

African Americans in Georgia.


     Enrollment peaked at over 500.  Students attended Chapel daily and

curriculum included: Latin, Physics, American History and Literature,

Biology, Chemistry, Algebra and Geometry.  Boarding students paid

$10 and tuition ranged from .50 to $2.50 depending on grade level. 

(Continued on back side)

Supported by the Jack N & Addie D. Averitt Foundation



(Continued from front side)

     Also technical education in agriculture, mechanical and domestic

service classes was offered. The school held annual summer sessions

for teacher training and enhanced the city’s cultural life by sponsoring

guest lecturers and artists in concert, notably violinist Joseph Douglass,

grandson of Frederick Douglass, and concert pianist Hazel Harrison.


     As principal for 28 years, James lived with his wife Julia and their

children nearby at 205 Church Street, hosting famed scientist Dr. George

Washington Carver in 1933.  James was quoted as having said: 

“I have spent the best years of my life in building this school, sometimes

teaching all day, with a very small salary, and plowing by moonlight so

that my family and the students of the school might have food. With the

help of my friends I am building a school for colored people of which

I am proud.  It is the nearest and dearest to my heart.” 


     L. S. Wingfield succeeded James as principal in 1935. This school

was renamed William James High School in 1948. The Bulloch County

Board of Education has since operated schools and facilities elsewhere

named in James’ honor.

Supported by the Jack N & Addie D. Averitt Foundation

The Bulloch County Historical Society’s historical markers are funded by the
Jack N. & Addie D. Averitt Foundation.

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