5 Facts About The Georgia Academy for the Blind

The Academy Has Been the State's Only Residential School for the Visually Impaired

W. S. Fortescue came to Macon via Philadelphia in 1851 for the purpose of establishing a system of education for the blind.  Records at the time showed 220 blind persons in the state of Georgia that were going without mental education.  Blind himself, Fortescue found that residents were open to his cause and "subscribed liberally" to funding the school.  Since 1851, The Georgia Academy for the Blind has been the State's only residential school for the visually impaired.  

During the War, the Academy Building was Used as a Confederate Hospital 

During the War Between the States, the total sick and wounded in Macon was about 900 men and the school was converted into a hospital for the wounded, forcing teachers and students to relocate to Fort Valley where the school continued to operate until they returned to Macon in 1865. 

The Academy Was Removed Three Times Before It Found Its Permanent Location 

The Academy was at one time operating in a plant on Orange Street between Washington Street and High Street that later became the Nevarro Apartments.  With the intention of relocating the school, the Orange Street property was put up for sale at $50,000 and within a year it was purchased by Willis Sparks.  After the sale of the Orange Street property, the trustees paid $12,000 for 20 acres on Vineville Avenue that was once the old Huff Property.

The Academy Provides a Wide Array of Services to its Students

Since its inception, the Academy has provided students with developmental opportunities in the areas of intellectual growth, vocational skills and functional living experience.  Over 25 years ago, the School developed a program for students with multiple disabilities. This program affords both visually impaired students and non-sensory impaired students who may have significant concomitant handicaps with educational opportunities in a variety of academic, vocational and community domains.  Today, the academy has up to 100 students enrolled.

Reverend Pearly Brown and Blind Willy McTell Attended the Academy 

Reverend Pearly Brown lived his life preaching and singing about the word of God to common folk in the streets.  In speaking about his childhood, “I was born blind so I have never seen the world. My mother died when I was quite small and my father had left her. White people raised me, sent me to a school for the blind in Macon."  Brown learned to play the guitar at the Georgia Academy for the Blind and was the first black man to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. William Samuel McTier, also known as Blind Willie McTell, attend the Academy where he received a broader education than other poor, sighted blacks could generally expect; he was always "clean and presentable", dressed in a jacket and tie, and a cloth cap with a short bill. And he was never without his guitar.

posted 08/24/2018 in Community


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