Pictured here is the Harrington School (formerly known as the Harrington Graded School), the last remaining African-American school on St. Simons Island. This one-room schoolhouse served grades 1-7 from the 1920s until its desegregation in the 1960s, after which it was converted to a daycare for several years before being totally abandoned.
This school is considered one of the most valuable representations of the Gullah-Geechee heritage of St. Simons. Serving three Black communities on the island, it wasn’t only a place to learn, it became a place of community. From potluck dinners to Halloween apple-bobbing parties to movie nights to Christmas gift exchanges and Easter egg hunts, the Harrington School served as an important gathering place for the Gullah-Geechee community. A community documented as a bedrock American culture, which features its own language, its own Christian worship practices, and its own distinct artistic expressions.
In 2011, the Harrington School was listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Places in Peril” list, a list that identifies significant historic, archaeological, and cultural properties that are at risk from deterioration, demolition, or insensitive public policy or development. But thanks to activism efforts by the Friends of Harrington (a group which formed in an effort to bring together people of all races interested in preserving St. Simons history), the St. Simons African-American Heritage Coalition, and the SSI community, enough money was raised to restore the schoolhouse. In 2017, it reopened to the public as the Historical Harrington School Cultural Center and now serves to educate, inform, and uphold the Gullah-Geechee culture.
📍 291 South Harrington Road
📆 April to September: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm | October to March: Tuesday to Thursday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm