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Great Schools Grow Communities
and Revitalize Neighborhoods


“A community is known by the schools it keeps.”
                                  – Motto of Shaker Heights (Ohio) School District.

    The Barton Academy Foundation was created to raise awareness and funds to renovate the interior of historic Barton Academy, Alabama’s first public school, and return it to use as a vibrant downtown school. The opening of a state-of-the-art middle school will benefit Mobile far beyond providing thousands of students a great education with a global focus. Studies show that the area around Barton will be revitalized by having hundreds of students and parents in and around the neighborhood every weekday. All of Mobile will become an even more inviting place to live, work or visit.
    Public schools are intimately linked with communities. They serve as centers of learning, they employ residents and they connect neighbors with one another. They are part of a neighborhood’s physical fabric, impacting local housing markets and influencing the aesthetic character of a community.
    According to Connie Chung, author of “Using Public Schools as Community Development Tools: Strategies for Community-Based Developers,” a national movement has unfolded to link public schools with community development efforts. From enhancing urban revitalization efforts to providing community-oriented spaces, public schools are emerging as invaluable partners on a wide array of fronts.
    Similarly, in “The Neighborhood and Its School in Community Revitalization,” Sandra M. Moore and Susan K. Glassman of Urban Strategies report that there is overwhelming evidence the quality of the schools serving an area is important to people when deciding where to live. The impact of schools on residential choice also extends to people who
do not have school-aged children.
    After studying four dramatic neighborhood revitalization projects undertaken in the 10 years since the enactment of HOPE VI, a federal revitalization program, the authors concluded that a holistic approach to redevelopment with a high-quality neighborhood school as the cornerstone results in communities that are perceived as good places to live.
    Please join us in creating the  Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies as an innovative educational institution, an engine for growing the area’s economy and a cornerstone for making downtown a great place to live.

Why We Support Barton Academy

for Advanced World Studies

Dr. Carolyn Lee Taylor
Retired MCPSS Administrator,
Barton Foundation Board Member

    The return of Barton Academy to the community as a learning laboratory for students is visionary, practical and creative. How better can we communicate to our youth, our community and our visitors our commitment to exemplary education than offering a quality program in historic downtown Mobile?
    We have the building; we want shoppers, tourists, business leaders and residents downtown. Where there are students, others will follow. It is a creative vision that is novel, good and useful. It will communicate to industry leaders, here and abroad, that Mobile is a thriving and creative-thinking business community that values its past, corrects its mistakes and prepares for its future.
    Why would Mobile – indeed all of Alabama – not be committed to maintaining and protecting this symbol of public education in our state? Housewives in Texas were able to save the Alamo, a decrepit old mission. We in Alabama are saving a site for children where our ancestors could have stood on Government Street and received the news of the fall of that Alamo in 1836.
    I worked at Barton for ten years, left to serve as an assistant principal, then returned as a central office administrator from 2000-2007. During tumultuous times for the system, I found blacks and whites working together harmoniously. Friendly staff members cooperated to build and support curriculum and instruction. When the Mobile Reading Plan was developed, it was printed in the Yerby building, requiring amazing commitment by dozens of staff members. Working weekdays, nights and weekends was necessary to ensure copies were available in every classroom. I was late arriving on Labor Day and was locked out of Barton’s grounds. With no cell phones at that time, I could not alert anyone to let me in. So I climbed the fence – no small feat!
    Eventually the day came when we had to say goodbye to Barton because the system relocated to its larger, present-day facility. Our group stayed behind on the third floor while other departments moved until we finally could put it off no longer. We were allowed to go back after work and take pictures of our group on the balcony outside the superintendent’s office on the second floor. We ended our sentimental journey with supper at Wintzell’s but often lamented we weren’t still in Barton. Our group was exceptionally close and have remained so to this day. I’m sure this partly accounts for my reverence for Barton.

Brian Willman
South Alabama Market President, Regions Bank

        At Regions, our success is tied to the success of the communities we serve. Education is a primary focus of our philanthropy due to its ability to positively and permanently impact and transform individual lives as well as communities. The opportunity to work with the Barton Academy Foundation has placed us in the unique position of supporting downtown redevelopment, historic building preservation and economic development, while fulfilling the primary goal of supporting the education of our next generation of leaders. Regions is proud to partner with our local community to drive a positive outcome for south Alabama and thankful for all our customers that have put us in a position to do so.

Memories of Barton Academy


                          Sister McClure
    One of Louise “Sister” McClelland McClure’s fondest memories of her seventh-grade year at Barton (in 1936) is of getting to know the influx of seventh graders from “other parts of town.” Barton Academy combined students from multiple elementary schools. For example, children who grew up on Old Shell Road did not know students like Sister, who grew up in her present home on Catherine Street. She also remembers how much she loved Fridays when the cafeteria served pineapple salad.
    Almost 97 years old, Sister says life now is “Patch, patch, patch!” But she fondly remembers her lifelong friends from Barton, including Mabel Ward, Dibba Bodden Lutz, Evelyn Bell and her boyfriend, Bobby Wilkins. Along with them, she watched “Floating Island,” a “terribly old” woman who walked by Barton to the docks every day looking for her
love who went to sea and never returned. She wore long, flowing clothes from the period when he left, so she gave the appearance of floating by.

Polly Cleveland
    Polly Cleveland lives in Jacksonville, Fla. but receives the Barton newsletter. She happened to read that Barton was used as a hospital during the Civil War and remembered that her great-great-grandfather Benjamin Harrison Sapp was stationed and then hospitalized in Mobile during the war and died here on December 17, 1863. A captain in Co. F 29th Alabama Infantry, Sapp had become friends with the local Coursey family, and they allowed him to be buried in their family plot in Magnolia Cemetery.

Bill Welch
    Bill Welch wrote that he was a Barton Bulldog in the 7th and 8th grades, as was his older brother Ken. He was heartbroken when the city closed Barton Academy and has not had a chance to return to the school since then. There will undoubtedly be opportunities for alumni to tour the school when it is renovated.

Josephine Ida Nelson
    David Kearley identified one of the students whose autographs on a wall of Barton were uncovered in a previous renovation as his mother Josephine Ida Nelson Kearley. She graduated in 1915 and raised three boys and a girl at 1318 Old Shell Road where the family lived from 1921 until her death in 1965. David said he is delighted to hear of the renovation,
a “project long overdue.”


Do you recognize anyone is this 1937

Barton class photo?

Your support of our campaign will help new generations of Mobilians create memories at Barton!

Barton boys and girls c. 1940.png

    This photo of one class at Barton c. 1937 includes Mrs.Eloise Rolls at left and Mrs. Dodge at right. Others who have been identified include: front row, left to right:
Unknown, Betty Ashcraft, Louise McClelland, Emma Buck Ross St. John, and Jessie Mae Crosby. Second row, fourth from left: Hetty Horst (Cunningham) and eighth from left Mary Lee Tibor and Katherine Phillips Singer. Back row, left: Jimmy Brown, Marion Beanie McMurphy and, fifth from left Richard Miller. Back row, third from right: Fred Clark. We would love to know who the other students are.  Please send identification to

Thank you, supporters!

We appreciate your support in bringing us closer than ever to meeting our match from the Ben May Charitable Trust! DONATE here or mail a check to Barton Academy Foundation, P. O. Box 571, Mobile, AL 36601. To make a gift of stock or other assets, email Foundation treasurer Denise Browning


Find a full list of

our donors here.


Download a pdf copy of our July 2019 Newsletter here.

Honor Your Ancestors with

a Gift to Barton Academy

    Naming a room or space within Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies or a section of the original cast iron fencing is an excellent way to ensure that your family name remains a part of Mobile’s history. For as little as $1,000, you can have your nameor the name of a family member engraved on a permanent plaque.
    Naming opportunities range from $10,000 (8’ fence section/$2,000 per year for 5 years) to $4,000,000 (Yerby Building). Other options include classroom spaces at $25,000 ($5000 per year payable over 5 years) and science labs at $250,000.
    The complete list of remaining naming opportunities is available online here.


Double Your Contribution

    The  challenge grant from The Ben May Charitable Trust encourages contributions by matching donations and making it possible to double the effect of your gift. Multi-year pledges are accepted.
    To make a gift click here. You may also mail a check to Barton Academy Foundation, P. O. Box 571, Mobile, AL 36601. All gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS.

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