Madison-Morgan Cultural Center building, formerly one of the first graded public schools in the Southeast.
Artist rendering of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center building.
An undated postcard.
Historic photo, undated.
The historic, apse-shaped Theatre of the Cultural Center, where school assemblies were once a daily routine for local students. The intimate 395-seat theater contains original woodwork, ceiling, seats, and chandelier.
1895 Schoolroom Exhibition
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Stop Eleven


Across the street on your left, you will see the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, an elegantly restored 1895 Romanesque Revival building. Education has long been dear to the citizens of Madison. George White, in his 1849 Statistics of the State of Georgia, said: “Madison has long been celebrated for excellent schools. There are as many well-educated gentlemen and ladies in Madison as in any portion of the state.” Education moved from the private sector to the public realm in 1893 when Madisonians approved the creation of a city school system with only three dissenting votes. Due to Georgia’s dual system of education at the time, infamously known as “separate but equal,” this school building was constructed for white students. And a more modest, wood frame building was erected for black students across the tracks.

Tinsley & Wilson of Lynchburg, Virginia designed this architectural gem with rounded arches, a central bell tower, and touches of classical details that were characteristic of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, then popular for college and school buildings. Nicholas Ittner of Atlanta was contracted to build the structure, which included a stunning auditorium lit by electricity, new to Madison in 1890.

The building served as a public school until 1957 when the schools in the county consolidated and outgrew the old facility. In the early 1960s, the Morgan County Foundation was formed with the avowed purpose of securing the building and making it available to the public. It became the public library for a time but was again vacated when a new library was built in the early 1970s. The decision was made to work toward restoring the building’s exterior and adapting the interior for use as a center for the performing, visual, and decorative arts. The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center opened its doors to the public for the first time on July 6, 1976. In addition to the original auditorium, the building now contains art galleries, a small museum, a restored school room, a display of arts and crafts furniture, and a gift shop.

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