The Boys’ Dormitory
Client: National Park Service and Dorchester Improvement Association
Scope of Services: Condition Assessment, Abbre-viated Historic Structure Report, Code Analysis and Schematic Design
In 2009, Dorchester Academy, a National Historic Landmark, was listed as one of the nation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Dorchester Academy was founded shortly after the Civil War to teach the responsibilities of citizenship as well as employable skills to former slaves of coastal Georgia. The school flourished throughout the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, adding an array of increasingly impressive buildings for both male and female students. The Boys’ Dormitory was designed by architect George Awsumb and constructed by students in 1934. By the late 1940s, the school buildings increasingly served as a community center for the area’s African American population. In the 1950s the school became a regional center for the Civil Rights Movement, hosting classes organized by the legendary activist Septima Clark and visited by such leaders as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy. Here, volunteers gathered before spreading across the South in the massive voter registration effort. Only the Boys’ Dormitory remains, now used as community center and Civil Rights museum.
JKOA prepared a comprehensive plan for this endangered property to guide local members of the Dorchester Improvement Association as they undertake the repairs themselves, as they have in each previous generation.