By the start of the 1950s, most school systems with rural schools realized that they had a very real problem with African-American schools.
Most were in one-room shacks.
The Georgia Department of Education, in its Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth Annual Reports in 1950 said that out of the state’s 2,310 black schools, 1,254 employed only one teacher. By contrast, there were only 135 one-teacher white schools.
Baldwin County was one of the systems with many such schools. There were 21 one-teacher schools in Baldwin in 1949-50 and 29 schools total, according to the Department of Education.
A school survey happened in Baldwin, likely during the first half of 1950. It recommended consolidation of small schools.
Baldwin had nine in a section of the county: Browns Crossing, Fishing Creek, Walker’s Grove, Antioch, New Mount Zion, St. Mary’s, St. Paul, Morgan’s Chapel and Vaughn’s Chapel. Enrollment at the nine totaled 340 students.
After some consideration, the Baldwin County school system decided upon a plan as to what to do with this school population.
They would move them into a hospital. A hospital that had until recently served as a Georgia State Prison hospital (and still was at the time the plan was unveiled).
Milledgeville’s Union-Recorder described the thinking behind this decision as such:
“The board of education believes that since the county has the hospital building under lease from the state for 16 more years and since the prisoners housed there will be moved by August 1, that savings can be made in the number of Negro teachers employed and that a better school program can be carried on.”
Three buses were added to the fleet to transport the students.
The prison was located just west of Milledgeville on GA 22 and actually in the Brown’s Crossing District. It is approximately where the Baldwin County Recreation Department is currently located.
Settling into its former prison digs, the school was named Northside.
Northside apparently remained in its former prison hospital building until c. 1967, when it moved to North Columbia Street.
Sources: Seventy-Eighth and Seventy-Ninth Annual Reports of the Department of Education to the General Assembly of the State of Georgia; July 13, 1950 Milledgeville Union-Recorder; 1950 State Highway Department Baldwin County map; Georgia Educational Directory 1966-67, 1967-68.