On my second day touring Liberty County, we made a stop at the Dorchester Academy and Museum in Midway Georgia. This historic site is located at the corner of East Oglethorpe Highway (US Route 84) and Lewis Fraser Road.
The starting point for each tour is the museum located in a small building in front of the dormitory. Inside you will be greeted by a friendly volunteer staff and be given a brief tour. You learn about the history of the buildings, the young men that attended the school, and those that were activists for African-American education and civil rights. My tour guide, Mr. Bacon, commented on how my eyes lit up and how history “just gets in your blood.” It does indeed. Have I mentioned lately how much I love historic coastal Georgia?
Currently undergoing extensive restoration, the main building, a beautiful two-story Georgian Revival dormitory, was built to educate freed slaves after the Civil War. By 1917, the fully-accredited high school consisted of multiple buildings and almost 300 students. Unfortunately many of the buildings were destroyed by fire in the 1930’s or torn down after the school closed in 1940.
As you walk through the halls and the auditorium, you can get a feel of the building’s past and imagine the lives that were changed by the availability of such a high level of learning. Our tour guide mentioned that the education provided surpassed what was standard at the time and allowed many of the boys to proceed into high level positions without the need of college.
In 1961, the remaining building was converted for use as a civil rights center and Dr. Martin Luther King stayed on site before his march on Birmingham in 1963. A room which bears his name can still be seen as you tour the facility.
The Dorchester Academy, while having one foot in the past and rich in African-American history, has a very bright future. The nearly complete restoration process will enable the building to be used once again by the community. I look forward to a return visit. The history book for this site has many more chapters.
Note: In front of the museum there are paver stones with names of people that have donated to this wonderful Liberty County site. I encourage you to purchase one. You never know who’s life it will change.
Hours of Operation are
Tuesday: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Wednesday: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Thursday: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Friday: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Saturday: 11:00AM – 4:00