Locust Grove Institute
Locust Grove, Georgia
The www.shingleroof.org website contains a 1921 "History of the Locust Grove Institute," written by Miss Emily Griffin. The Macon Telegraph covered many events of LGI, including a history at the time of the school's 25th anniversary in 1919.
Locust Grove Institute was a product of the Flint River Baptist Association. It opened in October of 1894 with two teachers and 13 students. However by the end of term, enrollment had increased to 85. By 1921 there were 289 students, taught by a faculty of 18.
LGI began as a preparatory school, whose graduates were admitted to college without examination. But around 1906 a thirteenth-grade was added, so that LGI graduates were admitted to four-year schools as Sophomores. Later discussions focused on making LGI a standard junior college. LGI graduates almost invariably attended Mercer University or Bessie Tift College. Miss Griffin lists the LGI departments as "Literary, Music, Expression, Commercial, Domestic Science, Art, Bible, Military, and Athletics." Miss Griffin notes that LGI was among the first Georgia prep schools to be accepted into the Association of Schools and Colleges of the Southern States. In 1914 LGI was selected to represent the Baptist denomination (one of seven co-educational preparatory schools in the nation) in the Commission of International Conciliation.
A 1915 advertisement states, "None but Christian boys and girls are tolerated in the student body."
There were two literary societies--Philomathean and Philosophian--whose debates were part of commencement week. These societies also were the basis of intramural athletic events. The music and expression departments combined for a musical program, and the Locust Grove Orchestra performed at school events. Students published an eight-page monthly magazine called the Logrin.
LGI was a member of the Sixth Congressional District, Georgia Intercollegiate Activities Association (G.I.A.A.) In addition to athletic contests, the district also held competition in essay writing, spelling, declamation, reading, and music.
During World War I, LCI added military training to the curriculum.
LGI ultimately fell victim to two forces that doomed many other small private schools. The growth of good public schools cut into enrollment, and the Great Depression dried up the money supply. In 1928 the Baptist Association sold LGI to a group of investors with plans to expand the facilities and curriculum. However, the school was forced to close in May of 1930
Bricks and Mortar
Miss Griffin notes that the school opened in "a large wooden main building and a 30x50ft old school room with no partitions and in which the president and the boys had their beds side by side in one end and in the other end did their cooking." By 1921 when she wrote her history, the campus consisted of four cottages, two brick dormitories, and the administration building, all on a 46-acre lot.
The administration building was completed in 1905. When the college closed, it sat empty for three years before being renovated as a public elementary school building. In 1983 it was purchased by the city and renovated again as City Hall. It was placed on the National Register in 1986.
LGI administration building, now the Locust Grove city hall. Image by cssmith/dbb1 (<www.panoramio.com/photo/66032521>) accessed 2-16-2017
Team name: After LGI added military training, the Telegraph occasionally refers to teams as "Cadets" or
"Grovers." Georgia High School Football Historians Association uses the name "Bobcats."
Colors: A 1922 account of a game with Tech High School of Atlanta notes that both teams wore yellow jerseys.
LGI seems to have offered a full complement of sports. College football Data Warehouse shows games as early as 1905. Sixth District opponents included Georgia Military Academy, Gordon Institute, Griffin High School, and Lanier High School. LGI occasionally stepped up into college competition. They tried their hand against Mercer, Piedmont, Oglethorpe and even Georgia--a 101-0 loss.
LGI played baseball against the same opponents and was one of the first schools in the area to embrace basketball. The Telegraph reported in 1913 that girls basketball was to become "a permanent part of school life." Each year the G.I.A.A. Sixth District Field Day offered competition in track and field.
The 1912 LGI football team. Image from the 1912 National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Guide. (<archive.org/stream/officialnational09nati#page/312/mode/2up>) accessed 2-16-2017