Why We Support Barton Academy
for Advanced World Studies
Board Member and Downtown Property Owner
I have been an avid proponent for the revitalization of Mobile’s downtown since moving here 37 years ago. This desire for a more progressive Mobile is being realized through personal vested interest, along with the efforts of many other motivated citizens who are investing and starting businesses in downtown Mobile. This concerted interest in restoring buildings in the area has made for a vibrant atmosphere and serves as a catalyst for additional revitalization of other structures in downtown. Mobile is enjoying a renaissance of sort, unprecedented to no other period in its recent past.
My property’s close proximity to Barton Academy, along with my former teaching background has, no doubt, heighten my desire for the restoration of this fine and prominent building. I welcome and invite the support of other downtown property owners, businesses and Mobile citizens in general, to join me with their support of this worthy endeavor. Our collective collaboration on restoring Barton Academy will be transformative. Many young boys and girls will be afforded opportunities to develop analytical skills commensurate with preparing them to become future leaders in Mobile and beyond. All of this will be happening just one block from my property in Mobile’s Downtown Church Street East Historic District.
It would be most appropriate to see this architectural gem, with a distinction of being the oldest established public school in the state of Alabama, restored to its original purpose of serving as a learning environment for young aspiring students in our city.
Barton Academy is not just another building. Given the total of Mobile’s downtown restoration, Barton Academy would be the “Center Piece.” It’s a signature building, historic in nature and commands its title and reputation of being called an “Academy.”
Board Member, Barton Academy Foundation
Rarely do we Mobilians have the opportunity to assure current and future generations that institutions that shaped Mobile’s present culture are not forgotten. Rarer yet, can our desire to preserve and honor history be combined with our civic responsibility to the continued development and support of our entire city and community.
Most Mobilians know that Barton Academy was built before the Civil War and that it is a beautiful Greek Revival structure. But the beauty and majesty of the structure is not Barton’s only importance to Mobile. Barton was used as a public school much of its existence. It was the school attended by young people born and raised in either rural areas of Mobile County or in the houses, both simple and architecturally intricate, along the streets of the city. In some cases these were children of immigrant families who settled in Mobile because it was an international port or because its businesses offered opportunities for a better life than any one of those families could have imagined in the old country. Barton Academy was the first melting pot for white school-age children encountering other children from different and diverse backgrounds.
Children from all backgrounds and all walks of life met, interacted, played, loved, were disappointed in love, in some cases were bullied, in some cases worked, and in all cases grew up to some degree at Barton Academy. Each former student, teacher, and administrator has prodigious memories of Barton Academy. The hallways and classrooms have heard and seen it all. The memories and stories originating in this structure must be preserved in the structure in which they took place. Barton Academy is an important part of the history of Mobile to all of us.
Many times well-intentioned persons want to preserve a historical structure because of the memories or events that person associates with that structure. Many times the only future use for a structure is conversion to a museum or to an untested gathering place. Barton Academy is different. It will be used as a school to provide an innovative, internationally-focused educational program for public school children. Its renovation will not only preserve memories of the past, but will also make available to Mobile’s schoolchildren an educational experience that will prepare them to become world citizens.
In recognition of this history and of the need for an internationally-focused education for today’s children, I support the campaign to revive Barton Academy with both my time and my financial support. I hope other members of Mobile’s present and past community will, as well. It is a unique opportunity.
Church Street East
Historic District Neighborhood Organization
Barton Academy, now known as The Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, is one of the oldest remaining structures located within the Church Street East Historic District. Since its construction in 1836, Barton has remained a symbol of extraordinary architectural design. As the first public school in Alabama, Barton Academy attained its prominence by instituting an unsurpassed standard of educational excellence.
Barton Academy has withstood the test of time, still standing proudly, outlasting those urban movements that demolished so many beautiful historic homes and businesses.
Barton Academy is not only part of the fabric of Church Street East, it is family. A few weeks ago, the Church Street East Neighborhood Association held its monthly meeting at Barton. Some of us walked from our homes to the meeting, and as we neared the intersection of Cedar and Government, we were once again wowed by the sheer majesty of this building. Barton Academy, all lit up, reminded us of what a jewel we have in our neighborhood, AND in Mobile.
During the meeting we reminisced about our experiences with Barton Academy – some as students, others as teachers, and more recently, as preservationists. We gladly voted to contribute neighborhood association funds to the Barton Academy Foundation. We committed our support to those community efforts that will restore this iconic structure and revitalize it as The Barton Academy School for Advanced World Studies.
Mobile County Commission
I support the effort to restore Barton Academy because it offers another choice for middle school students in Mobile County. All schools should offer high quality programs and deserve significant investment.
Barton will be a laboratory where we can learn lessons and gain insight that can be applied to other schools going forward. This will inure to the benefit of schools systemwide and increases our return on investment.
For students who have a particular interest in the curriculum offered at Barton it allows early, in-depth exposure that can promote critical thinking in every subject matter going forward.
Finally, our community has destroyed by neglect or design far too many of the historic structures that are the defining characteristic of our city. Restoring Barton begins the hard fought work of saving what remains.
Board Member, Barton Academy Foundation
Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies will represent the future of public education. With a STEM-focused curriculum and emphasis on foreign languages and global commerce, Barton Academy will inform Mobile County students as to exactly how Alabama relates to the world. Attending Barton will be a truly unique opportunity for those students who meet the rigorous academic criteria.
But this project is broader than just re-establishing a public school – in the 1800s Alabama’s first – in the heart of downtown. It gives one of Mobile’s truly iconic and historically-significant buildings a modern relevance. It creates an educational opportunity without equal. And it gives us another feather in our quiver for industrial recruitment. The Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor need only look across Government Street to show prospective businesses how this community is creating a well-educated future workforce.
As a resident of Mobile, and more specifically a resident of downtown Mobile, I could not be more proud to support this worthy endeavor. So my answer to the question of why I support this campaign is “How could I not?”
Study Shows New School Construction Boosts Test Scores, Enrollment, Home Prices
Will creating a new middle school near Downtown Mobile result in improvements in test scores, enrollment in public school, and prices of homes in the area? A study done in 2011 on a major school construction effort in New Haven, CT shows that it should.
According to the study, school construction has a positive effect on home prices, academic achievement, and public-school enrollment. Seth Zimmerman and Christopher Neilson of Yale University Department of Economics published the study, which focused on a 22,000-student school district in which 80% of the students were eligible for free lunch and approximately 90 percent were either black or Hispanic. Students from poor families have traditionally lagged in educational outcomes such as graduation rates and test scores. In addition, one out of four of this group of students spoke a language other than English at home.
While reading scores were flat in the years leading up to the construction, scores turned upward once the school was opened and continued to increase for at least the next six years.
Housing prices and neighborhood public school enrollment also respond positively to school construction. Elementary and middle school construction raised home values by 1.3 percent per $10,000 of per-student expenditure, and the number of school zone residents attending public school rose by up to 4.4 percent per $10,000.
Taken together, student outcome, home price, and enrollment results suggest that families – particularly families with children – place a high value on school infrastructure investment.
For cities in which school construction increases home prices and where there is a corresponding increase in neighborhood amenities, there is a benefit in tax revenues.
Principals at the new schools agreed that the school construction project raised motivation at home and at school as well as increased parent involvement.
See the full report here.
Thank you, supporters!
During 2018 donors gave or pledged over $1,500,000. We appreciate this support that is 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 March 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.
An Alumnus Remembers…
Charles Morris Boyd attended Barton Academy in 8th and 9th grades in 1963-1965. He went on to spend 40 years as a Catholic priest, 30 of them in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence and other parishes in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Father Boyd recently wrote, “I was privileged to have some wonderful teachers: Bama Watson (English), Miss Guarisco (Spanish) among others. I will never forget them…Would love to find out more about the faculty that served us so well.” He is now retired in Medellin,
Colombia. If you are a former teacher or have a story about one you’d like to share, email us at email@example.com.
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.