The Harrington School served as an educational hub for African American communities on St Simons Island.
Over a century ago, the thriving Harrington Community was established by emancipated slaves who had been liberated from St. Simons Island plantations – an inspiring feat that has left its mark on history forever! From 1900 to 1920, a vibrant African American population thrived in the area. Many adults worked as sawmill workers and carpenters, as the area grew. Education was of the utmost importance. This community was well-versed; nearly every member could read and write. Harrington School hosted grades 1-7 until desegregation in the 1960s, when students transferred to St. Simons Elementary.
Little known facts about Harrington School:
- Filming of the 1974, movie Conrack took place at Harrington School. Jon Voight starred in film, based on Pat Conroy”s book The Water is Wide. The movie documented Pat Conroy’s teaching Gullah-Geechee children on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.
- Historic recordings made by British folk singer Shirley Collins at the Harrington School are housed at the Library of Congress as part of its “Archive of American Folk Song.”
- The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation works to protect the state’s heritage with the Places in Peril program. To be included, sites must exemplify significant historical, archaeological or cultural value and are on the brink of destruction from deterioration or public policy issues. The criteria include eligibility for listing on either the National Register of Historic Places or on Georgia’s register as well as community support for preservation projects at listed sites. By preserving these places that tell our history it ensures future generations can experience a connection to their past too!
Not only did Harrington School provide an education to many over 100 years ago, but was a meeting site for the community.
For many generations, the school house was a cornerstone of community life. Students gathered around to learn and share in all forms of celebration. During Halloween there were apple-bobbing parties, while Christmas brought Santa Claus with gifts galore. Local families enjoyed Easter celebrations, plaiting Maypoles and numerous proms and graduations. Activities such as Harrington Parent-Teacher Association, Civic Club and fundraising organizations met here.