The Union Recorder

December 8, 2009

Sallie Ellis Davis House receives two grants

Vaishali Patel

The Community Foundation of Central Georgia has awarded two $10,000 grants to help fund the restoration of the historic Sallie Ellis Davis House.

Georgia College & State University was awarded a $10,000 grant from the CFCG Responsive Grant Program and officials are currently organizing a campaign to raise $25,000 to begin the preservation of the historic house.

The GCSU Foundation and the Sallie Ellis Davis Foundation plan to renovate and transform the deteriorated structure into an African-American Cultural Center. A partnership of the two foundations was formed last year after the historic building was placed on The Georgia Trust’s list of “Places in Peril” thanks to a nomination by Milledgeville MainStreet.

Garbutt Christman Construction and GCSU donated their time to a work day Saturday — lifting the historic house for initial construction of its new foundation. Media Relations Manager Judy Bailey said the project a two-fold.

“This is a great way to remember and memorialize [Sallie Davis],” Bailey said, “and this is a good way to educate young African-American students when they have no other way. [Sallie Davis] made a difference and they can, too.”

According to a press release, CFCG President Kathryn Dennis said the African-American cultural arts center will fit right in Milledgeville’s rich and vibrant historic district — becoming a great resource for K-12 students, college students and visitors.

The Knight Fund for Milledgeville, a component fund of the CFCG, awarded the second $10,000 grant. According to a press release on the grants the foundation is allowed to give nonprofit organizations grants up to $15,000 because of generous citizens who established unrestricted funds, according to Dennis. The CFCG Board of Directors is given the gumption to award grants to middle Georgia communities having the most urgent needs and opportunities because of consummated funds.

Currently, $40,000 has been donated toward the project to stabilize the 120-year-old house. The estimated cost of the project is more than $370,000. Garbutt estimates that 60 to 90 days are needed for stabilizing the house before renovations can initiate.

Sallie Davis has been distinguished as being one of the region’s first black mentors — educating African-American students in academics and life skills. Davis was born in the 1870s in Baldwin County. Davis completed her studies at Eddy School and proceeded to pursue a career in education from Atlanta University. After receiving a degree in 1899, Davis returned to Eddy School where she taught mathematics and served as an administrator, working for half-century. The Sallie Ellis Davis House was built in the 1800s, and Davis resided there from 1912 until her death in 1950. The house was used as a residence until 1989 when the University System of Georgia Board of Regents purchased it. Baldwin County recognized her after her death by naming the Sallie Ellis Davis School in her honor. In 2000, Davis was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement, a nonprofit organization honoring extraordinary women of Georgia’s history.

“By preserving the Sallie Davis House as a cultural center, we will provide an important link to the contributions African-Americans have made to our community,” stated Carolyn Thomas, a member of the Sallie Ellis Davis Foundation, in a press release. “It’s important for today’s youth — and the coming generations — to know about people like Sallie Davis … people who laid the foundation upon which they stand today.”

Once the home is renovated into a cultural center, it will become a stop on the African-American Heritage Tour and the Historic Tour of Milledgeville. The building will serve as a museum and as a place for meetings and events to highlight Milledgeville’s rich history.

For more information on the project or to make a donation toward The Sallie Ellis Davis House campaign, call Lee Snelling at (478) 445-8129.