National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program:
African American History Month Feature 2013
Vienna High and Industrial School, Dooly County, Georgia

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

[photo]
Vienna High and Industrial School
Photograph courtesy of the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office

The Vienna High and Industrial School in Vienna, Georgia, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 2012, as an excellent example of an equalization (an educational facility created to be equal among African-American and white students) school in Georgia and is significant in the areas of architecture, education, ethnic heritage and social history. The International Style school was built in 1959 to accommodate the increasingly overcrowded Vienna County Training School, which was adjacent to the high school.  The architects, Stevens and Wilkinson, designed 150 equalization schools in Georgia, including five in Dooly County, where this school is located. The school’s 23 teachers taught hundreds of elementary and high school students. In 1970, when Dooly County integrated its schools, the Vienna High and Industrial School was renamed Vienna High School and made into the city’s integrated high school. At the time, the high school for white students was repurposed into an elementary school. Napoleon Williams, Vienna High and Industrial School’s African-American principal, remained principal of the integrated Vienna High School. Vienna is exceptional among Georgia school systems because most of the integrated schools were held in formerly white schools, and the principals of the integrated schools were usually white. Vienna High served as an elementary school from the late 1970s until 2004, when it was closed and vacated.

[photo]
Vienna High and Industrial School
Photograph courtesy of the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office

The Vienna High and Industrial School is a large, sprawling high school built in an African-American neighborhood between the Southern Railway line and Georgia Route 27 on the east side of Vienna. The campus includes the school building, a cafeteria/auditorium, and an industrial shop.  It is among the largest equalization schools in the state and is larger than any block of buildings in Vienna. The long, rectangular building measures 29,000 square feet and includes 23 classrooms. Like most equalization schools in Georgia, Vienna High and Industrial School is a one-story building constructed on a poured-concrete foundation. The building is steel-framed with concrete-block infill and clad in brick. The flat roof, banks of metal-framed windows and lack of ornament are characteristics of the International Style.

[photo]
Vienna High and Industrial School
Photograph courtesy of the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office

In the 1950s and 1960s, Southern states embraced a strategy of massive resistance to racial integration in schools and other public places. The state of Georgia constructed modern schools for African-American children in an attempt to appease African-American communities and to demonstrate that it could operate racially separate and equal public school systems. These new schools for African-American children were built in urban and rural communities throughout the state from 1952 to 1962. The state built nearly 500 elementary and high schools, including at least one white school in each county. Designed in the International Style, these schools were larger and more technically advanced than earlier schools for African-Americans. The improved academic curriculum, which added higher level math and science courses, extended beyond the vocational training programs that had been standard for African-American schools so that equalization schools, as they are now called, were a source of pride, independence and cultural cohesion in African-American communities. In many rural counties, equalization schools were among the first modern buildings. Sports and other extracurricular activities ensured that these schools were woven into community life.  By 1970, racial desegregation of the state’s public schools resulted in the closure of many of these schools after a little more of a decade in use.

--exerpted from National Register documentation Vienna High and Industrial School, prepared by Steven Moffson, Architectural Historian, for the Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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