1. GRADUATING CLASS

GRADUATING CLASS AT WEST BROAD STREET SCHOOL.

C. 1948-1950

(COURTESY OF CLARETHA GARDNER MORSE)

2. SCHOOL STUDENTS

A RARE 1930'S PHOTOGRAPH OF STUDENTS AT THE FRONT ENTRANCE OF WEST BROAD STREET SCHOOL.

(COURTESY OF THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

TIMELINE

​1776 William Scarbrough is born in South Carolina.

1798 Scarbrough comes to Savannah and prospers as a shipping merchant and banker.

1815 At the height of his wealth, Scarbrough becomes a principal investor and president of the Savannah Steamship Company.

1818 Scarbrough commissions British architect William Jay to design a house for him on West Broad Street, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The earliest example of domestic Greek revival style in the Deep South, it is completed in May of 1819.​

​​

1819 The first steamship to cross the Atlantic, Scarbrough's history-making Savannah is not a commercial success and soon drives the shipbuilder into bankruptcy.

1820 Declared an insolvent debtor by the court, Scarbrough is forced to sell the house to his brother-in-law, another Savannah investor named Robert Isaac.​​ 

1828 Godfrey Barnsley, an English-born cotton merchant, marries Julia, one of Scarbrough's daughters.​

1835 Barnsley assumes management of Scarbrough House and adds a third story to the two-story building.

1851 Scarbrough House is sold to the Dominick O'Byrne family.

1864 General William Tecumseh Sherman occupies Savannah.

1865 Black educators form the Savannah Educational Association.

1867 Concerned about the educational needs of newly freed blacks, Bishop Verot contacts the Bishop in LePuy, France, and enlists the services of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.  Once in Savannah, the Sisters create an orphanage and school at Perry and Floyd streets for white boys.  Children of freed slaves are invited to attend classes.

1868 The eight Sisters of Saint Joseph establish a temporary day school for 80 black children as well as a "Night School for Adult Negroes" in Scarbrough House.

1870 Bishop Verot purchases Scarbrough House outright from Margaret O'Byrne for $13,000.

1872 Black leadership continues to pressure the community to provide adequate schooling for their children.  The Board of Education finally establishes a school for black children in the rectory of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church at Lincoln and Macon streets.

1873 On November 22nd, fire destroys the rectory at Saint Stephen's.  Its 178 students are moved to the recently vacated Scarbrough House.  James Porter becomes the first principal of the new West Broad Street School.

 

1876 The Catholic Diocese sells Scarbrough House to Bernard McKenna for $4,100.  The Board of Education continues to rent the house for a school.

1878 George W.J. DeRenne (1853-1916) acquires Scarbrough House and deeds it to the City of Savannah Board of Public Education to be used exclusively as a school for children of African descent.  A codicil in the deed stipulates that no religious instruction should be given in the building.  The terms of the agreement also provide that the property will revert to DeRenne  or his heirs should it not be used in the prescribed manner.

1878 James Butler follows James Porter as principal of West Broad Street School.

1880 Hundreds of children are turned away due to lack of space at the school.

1888 The Savannah Tribune of July 14th reports on the West Broad Street School graduation exercises held at a local theatre.  Proceeds from the twenty-five cent admission fee go toward the improvement of the school library.

1889 The Board of Education builds a four-room annex at the cost of $2,000.

1896 A Grand Jury's report states that the main building of West Broad Street School is "entirely unfitted for school purposes," citing the extreme lack of light and ventilation.

1914 West Broad Street School boasts 14 classrooms with 750 children, most of whom come from the section of the city known as Yamacraw.

1915 The Savannah Tribune carries a headline "Hundreds Not Admitted" and reports that the school is horribly crowded with a total of 836 students.

1920 A Savannah Fire Department inspection warns the city that West Broad Street School is a firetrap.

1921 Long-time principal James Butler dies and is mourned as a man of "rare literary tastes and most gentle refinement of personality."  Ira S. Bryant becomes the new principal, and Walter G. Dixon follows him in the 1930's.

1954 Brown vs. Board of Education.  This landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court declares state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional.

1958 West  Broad Street School boasts 847 students and 26 teachers.

1962 West Broad Street School closes.

​​