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“A group of thoughtful, committed Mobile citizens has done what some thought impossible – they’ve raised millions to save Barton!”

Elizabeth Stevens, Barton Academy Foundation President


Barton Academy Foundation board members, left to right: John D. Peebles, Schley Rutherford, Jr., Karen Outlaw Atchison, Geri Moulton, Jaime W. Betbeze, Elizabeth P. Stevens, Dr. Carolyn Lee Taylor, Stephen Carter, Martha L. Peek, Irvin Grodsky, Denise Browning, R. Allan Gustin. Not pictured: Raymond Bell, Nicholas H. Holmes, III and Chresal D. Threadgill.

    After years of watching historic Barton Academy languish and fall into disrepair, a small group of concerned citizens and representatives of Mobile County Public Schools met to craft a plan to bring Barton back to life. Former superintendents Dr. Roy Nichols and Martha Peek, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Lee Taylor and attorney Jaime Betbeze were early leaders in the effort. In 2012, when the Board of School Commissioners secured a $100-million bond for school construction, Commissioners Levon Manzie, Ken Megginson, Reginald Crenshaw, Judy Stout and Bill Foster supported earmarking $4 million to stabilize and restore the exterior of the Barton and Yerby buildings. This work was completed in 2015.
    In 2012, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, Barton Academy Foundation, was formed to raise awareness and private funding to restore the interior of the monumental Greek Revival building. Today, the board of the Barton Academy Foundation – with the help of donations from more than 500 individuals, corporations, institutions and foundations – has raised very close to the $10 million needed for the interior renovations.
    In December of this year, the Foundation will obtain financing for construction to begin, and students should be walking the halls of Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies in the fall of 2021!

Why We Support Barton Academy
for Advanced World Studies

Jim Backes
In memory of James McMurtrie Backes
    My father, James Backes, graduated from Barton Academy months before the great stock market crash of 1929.  His generation has been described as “The Greatest Generation” because of the way they overcame so many obstacles: global economic collapse, a Second World War, and a “Cold” War waged even to the frontiers of space. I am truly proud of my father and those of his generation who bequeathed to us the economic well-being and (mostly) peaceful world that we enjoy. In the 1920s, few adults would have guessed that these teenagers would have been able to face up to these challenges, let alone overcome them. But


they sent these children to school, where family values of respect for knowledge and hard work were reinforced, and where their natural curiosity about the world was stimulated and developed. The American commitment to universal education as the primary requisite for democracy and national well-being was richly rewarded by his generation, but who is to say that they will be the greatest?
    We are happy to participate in this campaign to build the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies because it is our hope that coming generations will benefit from our commitment to universal education, especially in a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent.  With so much of Mobile’s recent economic growth fueled by capital investments from the offspring of enemies my father fought against in the 1940s, our community is a great example of the benefits of the global economy.  Our hope is that the students of this Academy will, through their emphasis on global issues, become future leaders for our community, our state, our nation, and the world.

Tom McGehee
President, Rotary Club of Mobile
    At its September board meeting, the directors of the
Rotary Club of Mobile voted to donate $25,000 to sponsor a classroom within Barton Academy.  Since its founding in 1914, the club has focused its resources on supporting charitable causes in southwest Alabama with an emphasis on our youth.
    Interestingly, the first major project undertaken by our club was another $25,000 project back in 1931.  Those funds established an orthopedic ward for children at the Mobile


Infirmary. The polio epidemics of the time had left many children incapacitated, and the club sought to assist them in the road to recovery.  Nearly 90 years later that ward operates as the Bedsole-Rotary Rehab Center.
    The Rotary Club of Mobile has given an average of $100,000 annually to numerous organizations such as Goodwill-Easter Seals, Girl Scouts,
Mobile Infirmary, the Mulherin Custodial Home, MARC, Alabama School of Math and Science, Wilmer Hall, the Dumas Wesley Center, and the Augusta Evans School.
    The establishment of the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies is a project which is right in line with the long history of the Rotary Club of Mobile.  The Academy’s goal of preparing young Alabamians to compete in an increasingly competitive world is just as important today as our $25,000 commitment back in 1931 to assist disabled children.  We are happy and proud to be part of this project.

Thank you, supporters!

We're less than $700,000 away from our goal!

We appreciate your support in bringing us closer than ever our goal! 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 at

Find a full list of

our donors here.

The time is Now for you
to help reopen Barton!

    Barton Academy is Alabama’s oldest public school, and building it required one of the state’s first fundraising campaigns. In 1826 a small, history-making group formed a school board. By 1830 they’d bought an entire city block upon which to build a monumental school – a bold vision for growth in a city of only 13,000 citizens.
    But fundraising was slow, and the state legislature eventually allowed the group to raise funds through a lottery. They broke ground in 1836 with $50,000 in lottery funds, a $15,000 municipal loan and private donations, including a large gift from Henry Hitchcock, one of Alabama’s founding fathers.
    Today a new group is closing in on a $10 million goal to reopen Barton. With less than $700,000 left to raise, we need your help. Gifts of any size are appreciated and are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the IRS. While we’d love to receive your entire gift before
Dec. 31, 2019, payments can be made over the next four years. But as in your personal life, postponing payment will cost Barton money.
    Please donate here today.

Donate from your
Retirement Account

        If you’re 70-½ or older, you can donate up to $100,000 from your individual retirement account directly to Barton Academy Foundation (BAF). This is known as a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD. The contribution will count toward your required minimum distribution and isn’t included in your adjusted gross income. To be tax-free, however, the donation must go directly from your IRA account to BAF without passing through your hands. A $10,000 donation could thus escape +$2,500 in income tax. Consult your financial adviser if you are considering a gift to BAF in 2019 to see if this would benefit you. If you have already made a pledge, you may use this method to pay your pledge. Contact BAF board treasurer Denise Browning at for more information on transferring assets to Barton Academy Foundation.

Honor Your Ancestors with
a Gift to Barton Academy

    Naming a room or space within Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies is an excellent way to ensure that your family name remains a part of Mobile’s history.
    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.
    For as little as $1,000, you can have your name or the name of a family member engraved on a prominent donor wall in the lobby.
    The complete list of remaining naming opportunities is available


Download a pdf of the newsletter here.

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