SSAAHC-0005-5165-final

RFQ and RFP Fall 2010

Nine architectural firms responded to the Request for Qualifications sent out in September. The Advisory Council invited five of the nine firms to submit proposals for architectural services. These proposals are being reviewed now and the Advisory Council will send their recommendations to the coalition by the end of November. Funding for these services is provided in part by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Additional funds are needed to match the $1000 grant and to complete the funds needed for the architectural work.

Background

The Harrington Schoolhouse, formerly known as the Harrington Graded School, was built in the 1920's and served as the main educational structure for the three African-American communities on St. Simons Island. It hosted grades 1-7 until desegregation in the 1960's, when students left to attend St. Simons Elementary.

In 1968 it was converted to a day care center and used for this purpose until 1970. The physical structure has been deteriorating since then, but the rich history still lives strong in the minds of historians, the local community, and former students of the school.

As the oldest surviving educational structures for African-Americans on the island, the restoration and preservation of the Harrington Schoolhouse is of critical importance.

Harrington Schoolhouse Present Day

The St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition was founded in 2000 by concerned individuals and property owners on the island and surrounding areas primarily to serve as a vessel for the preservation and restoration of African-American land, heritage, and culture on St. Simons Island. To preserve the one-room historic Harrington School House Mrs. Isadore Hunter donated her portion of heirs property land to the St. Simons Land Trust and Glynn County in 2004.

Since 2004  the Coalition, in partnership with The Saint Simons Land Trust, has been actively seeking funds to restore the school house. Most recently a committee of interested organizations including the SSAAHC, the Land Trust, the Coastal Georgia Historical Society and Glynn County the Coalition worked on the design and development of a 13-acre multi-use nature park that surrounds the schoolhouse. The park development will coincide with the schoolhouse restoration.

Historic PerservationIn May 2010, the Coastal Regional Commission's Historic Preservation Task Force presented updated Conditions Report that the school house, originally built by skilled craftsmen, was "so solid it could float"  despite termite and weather damage.  Encouraged by this assessment ,new initiatives began to restore the school house led by the Friends of Harrington School, Inc.

Mrs. Isadora Hunter (center), Harrington resident who donated her property to the St. Simons Land Trust so the school house could be preserved, at meeting with (left to right), Jason M. Kotarksi, Historic Preservation Planner, Coastal Regional Commission; Benjamin Hunter {Mrs. Hunter's son); Ron Upshaw, President of the St. Simons African American Coalition; and Cesar Rodriguez, Chairman, Coastal Georgia Historical Society.