RESTORING THE PAST, BUILDING THE FUTURE
July 24, 2019 – Lagniappe
Rebuilding Barton – State’s oldest public school could house students again by 2021
With less than $1 million to raise and a nearly completed construction plan, Barton Academy – Alabama's first and oldest public school – could be holding classes again by August 2021.
That's according to Elizabeth Stevens, president of the Barton Academy Foundation, who said despite a few "quiet" years in the media, philanthropic donations and grants have continued to come in to help turn the 183-year-old building back into a learning center in Downtown Mobile.
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September 1, 2016 – Lagniappe
Barton Academy receives $1.25 million donation
Issuing a challenge to philanthropic organizations and businesses throughout the region, the Ben May Charitable Trust has made a $1.25 million donation to the Barton Academy Foundation in support of its efforts to restore the state’s first public school.
Located on Government Street in Downtown Mobile, Barton Academy was the first structure built by the Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County, the state’s first public school system. It housed the state’s first public school students when its doors opened in 1839 and continued to serve as a public school until the 1960s.
Now, more than 170 years later, a public-private partnership is moving ahead with plans to renovate the building and reopen it as a magnet program focusing on international studies.
August 31, 2016 – WKRG-TV
$1.25 Million Donation Will Help Renovate Barton Academy
A generous gift will help the renovation of historic Barton Academy. The Ben May Charitable Trust donated $1.25 million to the project.
More than $4 million has already been spent fixing up the exterior of the downtown building.
This new grant will be used to restore the interior, but finishing the inside is estimated to cost around $12 million.
“It’s a lot of money but it is no more than any other school building. If you have a school from start to finish whether it is a middle school or a high school it is well in excess of 12 million dollars,” said Jaime Betbeze, President of the Barton Academy Foundation.
Officials are confident they can raise all of the money by the end of next year. The plan is to reopen the school as a signature academy for advanced world studies.
August 31, 2016 – Barton Academy Foundation
Ben May Charitable Trust Pledges $1.25 Million to Barton Academy Foundation
Barton Academy Foundation (BAF) was awarded a $1.25 million challenge grant from the Ben May Charitable Trust. The gift is Barton’s largest to date and is a huge step forward in restoring Alabama’s oldest public school building as Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies. This innovative academy for grades six through nine will teach global commerce, international relations and foreign language skills through rigorous coursework aligned with international standards.
“The Ben May Charitable Trust has a long history of supporting some of Mobile’s most successful civic, cultural and educational organizations – including the expansion of the downtown library. We are very proud to have their endorsement and support,” said Jaime Betbeze, president of the Barton Academy Foundation board.
The BAF is working with the Mobile County Public Schools (MCPSS) to secure private, business and foundation funding to update Barton’s interior as a state-of-the-art school. Work was recently completed on a $4.2 million MCPSS project to renovate the exterior of Barton and adjacent Yerby School.
“The Ben May grant will be a major boost to our fundraising goal of $12 million,” Betbeze added. “This project is a great example of how a public-private partnership can bring value and innovation to Mobile.”
“Barton Academy has a long history of education excellence and innovation,” the Ben May Charitable Trust said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to continue this legacy of supporting Mobile’s future by backing a project that will return a vibrant school to the heart of downtown and prepare a new generation to succeed in a global economy.”
May 5, 2016 – Barton Academy Foundation
Barton Academy Foundation completes planning phase of fundraising campaign
As the first step in a comprehensive fundraising plan, the Barton Academy Foundation (BAF) recently conducted a campaign planning phase and meet with Mobile-area leaders to discuss efforts to renovate Barton’s historic buildings for use as the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies (BAAWS).
Nov. 12, 2015 – The Wire and Mobile Press Register
MCPSS receives historical preservation awards for Barton Academy restoration
MCPSS received the Downtown Mobile Alliance’s 2015 Main Street Mobile Downtown Innovation Award and the Historic Mobile Preservation Society’s Institutional Preservation Award for the ongoing restoration project.
March 20, 2015 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Crews working on exterior of Barton Academy to make historic complex a 'showcase' again
Mobile County school officials expect the $3.5-million exterior renovation of the Barton complex - which includes the main historic building and the adjacent J.D. Yerby School building - to be done by early August. Reporter/photographer Michael Dumas takes a tour of the Barton construction site and reports on progress with a great slide show of photos.
Jan. 7, 2015 – Lagniappe
COVER STORY: Ambitious plans to transform state’s first public school
In order to help students succeed in today’s global economy, the MCPSS and the Barton Foundation ultimately decided on the idea of Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, an innovative program aimed at providing a multicultural, specialty school with an emphasis on social diversity and international awareness.
Jan. 7, 2015 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Facelift underway for historic Barton Academy and Yerby School
al.com photographer Mike Kittrell has posted a photo essay of exterior renovation work at Barton.
Dec. 26, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Barton Academy set to make history again as an Academy for Advanced World Studies: guest opinion
In 1836 public education was a rare opportunity in America and didn't exist at all in Alabama. Yet Mobile saw a need and made history by hiring the region's top architects and educators to build a monumental public school that would set the standard for our state. Now Mobilians have the opportunity to make history again by joining the compelling plan to renovate this old building as a modern world studies academy - a project perfectly aligned with Mobile's future and growing global economy.
Dec. 26, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Barton Academy Foundation receives $250K grant for international school
The Barton Academy Foundation has received an early Christmas present: A $250,000 grant from the Hearin-Chandler Foundation.The money is the Barton foundation's largest gift to date and its first major contribution from a local organization.
$250,000 from Hearin-Chandler Foundation!
The Barton Academy Foundation has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Hearin-Chandler Foundation. The gift is Barton’s largest to date and our first major contribution from a local foundation. “The Hearin-Chandler Foundation has a long history of supporting some of Mobile’s most successful civic, cultural and educational organizations. We are very proud to have their endorsement and support,” said Elizabeth Stevens, vice-president of the Barton Academy Foundation Board.
The Hearin-Chandler grant will be a great boost to the Barton Foundation’s
ambitious plans for 2015, as we work toward our fundraising goal of $15 million for renovations to establish the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies.
Thank you, Hearin-Chandler Foundation for your leadership and support!
Dec. 16, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Mobile County school board OKs agreement with Barton Academy Foundation
The school board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Barton Academy Foundation. The school board has a $2.8 million contract with Ben Radcliff Construction to restore the exterior of Barton Academy and the Yerby School; work started last month and is scheduled to be completed next August.
Nov. 11, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Mobile County school construction update: Barton Academy renovation
Roof work has begun on the small kitchen area between Barton Academy and the 1904 J.D. Yerby School, said Tommy Sheffield, the school system's executive facilities manager.
May 3, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press Register
Homecoming at Barton Academy celebrates alumni, future plans
for state's oldest public school
The Barton Academy Foundation hosted "A Barton Academy Homecoming" on Saturday, May 3, in downtown Mobile.
March 7, 2014 – al.com and Mobile Press-Register
What's the latest on Barton Academy? Q&A with Jaime Betbeze
The Mobile County school system will begin renovation work on historic Barton Academy this summer, and officials with the Barton Academy Foundation are moving ahead with plans to convert the building into an international school.
February 25, 2013 – Alabama Public Radio
Saving Mobile’s Historic Barton Academy
Alabama Public Radio’s Ryan Vasquez reports on Barton Academy’s past and future through interviews with Barton alumni, Barton Academy Foundation President Jaime Betbeze and Mobile County Public School System Superintendent Martha Peek.
February 25, 2013 – al.com
School Board approves $3.5 million to restore Barton’s exterior
After six months of talking about what to do with a $100 million construction bond, the Mobile County school board tonight finally and unanimously voted on a slate of projects to complete. The historic Barton Academy in downtown Mobile, $3.5 million for repairs to the exterior.
March 5, 2013 – AL.com
Barton Academy ready for $3.5 million facelift
Barton Academy in downtown Mobile will get a major face lift with the $3.5 million that the Mobile County school board designated for renovations.
March 7, 2013 – AL.com
Online voters support Barton restoration, international studies school
Fifty-four percent of respondents to an Al.com poll said they agree with the Mobile County school board’s decision to spend $3.5 million to repair the exterior of the historic Barton Academy in downtown Mobile. Meanwhile, 68 percent of online voters in another poll said they support putting the international studies school at Barton.
March 11, 2013 – AL.com
Barton Academy Foundation announces fundraising campaign to create international school.
A new day dawned for Alabama’s first public school on this rainy Monday with the formal announcement of the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, Mobile County Public School System’s specialty school for 300 students in grades 6-9.
May 9, 2013 – Bill Cutts donates $10,000 to Barton Project
During the May 9, 2013, Annual Meeting of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society, Bill Cutts, owner of American Tank & Vessel (AT&V), presented a check for $10,000 to the organization for the restoration of Barton Academy.
Cutts cited his love for Mobile and the historical architecture of Government Street as his motivation for giving. He also acknowledged the importance of Barton Academy to our community and called upon others to follow his example. “Every time I drive down Government Street this jewel is standing there decaying. We must restore it,” Cutts said. “It is a beacon for downtown Mobile.”
March 26, 2013
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce endorses
Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies.
At its March 2013 meeting, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors endorsed efforts by the Mobile County Public School System and Barton Academy Foundation to renovate historic Barton and establish a specialty school for advanced world studies. The resolution cites the following reasons, among others, for the Chamber’s support:
International business investment is critical to the area’s economic stability and growth.
A school for advanced world studies will make Mobile a more attractive site for international investment and jobs, and will be a significant economic development tool; and
The establishment of an advanced world studies school will prepare both local and international students for careers in an increasingly global workforce.
At a press conference, Aug. 31, 2016, announcing a $1.25 million challenge grant from the Ben May Charitable Trust: John Peebles, chairman of the Ben May Charitable Trust, second from left, announced a $1.25 million challenge grant for Barton. Also in the photo are Martha Peek, superintendent of Mobile Public Schools, Don Stringfellow, president of the Mobile County School Board, and Jaime Betbeze, president of the Barton Academy Foundation.
The amazing exterior renovation of Barton Academy received the “Institutional Award” at the Historic Mobile Preservation Society’s (HMPS) third annual awards ceremony at The Steeple (formerly the historic St. Francis Street Methodist Church) in downtown Mobile on Oct. 22, 2015. This leadership award was presented to the Mobile County Public School System for its outstanding work on preserving one of Mobile’s most valuable landmarks. The award was accepted by Superintendent of Education Martha L. Peek and Mobile County School Board Vice President Don Stringfellow. HMPS President Erica Lasselle McElhaney, right, presented the award.