Developer plans to restore Bailey-Johnson School to honor teaching history for black students – WSB-TV Channel 2


ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Chains on the doors and boards over the windows greet visitors to the long-abandoned former Bailey-Johnson School in Alpharetta.

A planned redevelopment of the property on Kimball Bridge Road promises to preserve the history of segregation and black history at the site.

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“The best thing they did was build the school, but they built it for the wrong reason: to keep us apart,” said Charles Grogan, a 1965 graduate of the once all-black school.

Now 74, Grogan has mixed emotions seeing the state of the school today. It closed in 1967, then Fulton County Schools used it as a maintenance facility.

“When they closed it, it was quite sincere because a lot of people trusted this school. It was our school,” he says.

Commercial developer Bruce Fernald, in partnership with the town of Alpharetta and a local historical society, plans to convert the school into offices and build another three-story office building on the site, while preserving the buildings of origin.

“The school and gymnasium will look almost like they did when they opened in 1950. Our plan is not to change any of the facades,” Fernald said.


The school opened as “The Alpharetta Colored School” with classes from kindergarten through 12th grade. At the request of the first graduating class, the name changed in 1953 to Bailey-Johnson School, after the man who donated the land for the school and a former slave who pushed for education in the black community.

The final sale and construction of the property is expected to begin in June. The redevelopment will include graphics and galleries with old photos depicting the school’s history. They are also considering other ideas to help tell the school’s story and the segregation era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Grogan says he wants to come back and visit, walk through the old halls and bring his 3-year-old great-granddaughter.

“Take her and show her where her great-grandfather went to school,” he said. “It’s something I look forward to.”

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To learn more about the school and its history, the Alpharetta and Old Milton County Historical Society is partnering with Roswell, Johns Creek, and Milton Historical Societies to present a Black History Month special. The program will examine the educational history of black students in North Fulton on Sunday, February 27 at 2:00 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church at 3000 Webb Bridge Road in Alpharetta.



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