THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF DUBLIN, GEORGIA
June 25, 1997 marks the 86th anniversary of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Dublin. But the history of the Catholic Church in Dublin actually goes back to the latter years of the last century, when Catholic services were held in the homes of Dublin's Catholic families. Sideboards and buffet tables served as altars. Those families included the Schaufeles, Mahoneys, Ludwigs, Kreutzes, and Thomases. Fathers Kennedy, Shadewell, and Winkelreid conducted services on a random basis. With such a small number of members hopes, for a permanent building seemed slim.
Father Richard Hamilton, of the Sacred Heart Church of Milledgeville, decided in 1905 that a church should be built in Dublin. About the year 1908, a Dublin woman came forth to support the building of a Catholic Church. A lot had been purchased on the northeast corner of Elm and Stonewall Streets, but that plan was abandoned when a generous offer came from Mrs. Victoire Lowe Stubbs. Mrs. Stubbs, widow of railroad baron and local attorney, Col. John M. Stubbs, offered land along the eastern end of her husband's estate. Mrs. Stubbs gave the land and generously contributed to the building fund. Mrs. Stubbs was a daughter of Gov. Louis Lowe of Maryland. Mrs. Stubbs's influence led to Mosignor George Duval's funding of the church. The Monsignor requested that the church be named: The Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The lot given by Mrs. Stubbs was located on a small ridge at the corner of North Church Street and Tucker Street. Mrs. Stubbs and her step children's generosity also extended to the area north of the church which they gave to the city of Dublin in honor of Col. Stubbs. The old Stubbs mill pond was drained and landscaped into Stubbs Park beginning in 1910.
The church hired Frank Seeburg, a noted architect from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Seeburg, who donated the plans, designed the church in the shape of a cross. The forty foot by eighty foot church was built of red brick with a tile roof. The sanctuary was designed to accommodate up to two hundred parishioners. In the rear of the church were the quarters of the priest with a living room, bed room, and kitchen. John A. Kelley, who had built the Carnegie Library, the Baptist Church, and who was then working on the expansion of the Methodist Church, was hired as the contractor. T.C. Fountain, the foreman, began construction in November of 1910. The estimated cost was $5,000.00 with a good deal of the funds coming from outside the parish. The first brick was laid on February 2, 1911, and the work was finished in six months.
The first mass celebrated in the church was held on June 25, 1911 under the direction of Bishop Benjamin Keiley of Savannah. Catholic clergy and laymen from all over Georgia were in attendance. The dedication of the new building must have been a spectacular and moving event. All the hard work of railroad agent M.V. Mahoney and his fellow Catholics had paid off.
Soon many new members joined the church. They were members of what was known as the Lebanese Colony. The Jepeways, Shehans, and Nashes, who engaged in the mercantile business, brought many new families into to the church. Even with the new members, the church remained as a mission church with services being held only twice a month. It wasn't until Mosignor McNamara began weekly masses that the church became an independent church.
The first priest to serve the church was Father Richard Hamiliton. He was followed by Father Dan McCarthy and Father T.J. Morrow, who continued to serve on a part time basis. Father L.L. Toups was the first permanent priest. He was followed by Father Nicholas Frizelle, and Father Walter Donovan. After many years, the church rose above its status as a mission church.
During the World War II years the Church experienced a new growth. Sailors and soldiers stationed at the Naval Hospital and the German/Italian P.O.W. camp attended services. The prisoners were seen nearly every Sunday marching down Academy then up Church Street to morning mass. Some of the more creative ones built a Christmas creche which has been displayed on many Christmases since then. As Dublin and Laurens County shifted to a balance mix of agricultural and industrial economies, more Catholic families joined the Church. During the Cuban crises of the early 60s, the Church became a haven for refugees.
Among the early lay leaders of the church were William F. Schaufele, Victoire Stubbs, M.V. Mahoney, H.E. Kreutz, C.F. Ludwig, Louis Thomas, Mose Jepeway, Gus Jepeway, George Jepeway, Louis Shehan, George Shehan, John Shehan, F.M. Nash, Louis Benchina, Mark Pournelle, W.E. Page, John Duff, B.D. Lafferty, W.P.Roche, W.P. Roche, and Charles Maloney.
The white Italian marble statues which stand in niches on the front of the church today were originally located in the interior until the 1961 renovation. The statue of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph holding the baby Jesus were given by Martin Marquis Malone of Philadelphia and the artist, respectively.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
ANDREW CARNEGIE'S GIFT TO LAURENS COUNTY
The educated people of Dublin began calling for the establishment of a library as early as 1885. No one stepped forward until Dr. J. B. Duggan, a former Confederate Surgeon, offered the first one hundred dollars for a public library on January 1, 1903. The City Board of Education appointed a committee to contact philanthropist Andrew Carnegie seeking his help in building the library. Carnegie agreed to give ten thousand dollars for the construction of the building. His gift was predicated on the condition that the city fund the library in the minimum amount of one thousand dollars per year. Hal M. Stanley, a member of the board of education, led the effort to convince the city to accept Carnegie's offer. Over the years Carnegie donated funds to build more than 2800 libraries throughout the world.
The city selected the firm of Bruce, Morgan, and Dillon to design the library. This same firm designed the courthouse built nine years earlier. The first order of business was to remove the old school and Masonic lodge from the triangular lot at the intersection of Bellevue and Academy avenues. The building was moved to the lot when the new school was constructed in 1902. Robinson's Well, the artesian well that satisfied many thirsts, was capped with layers of cement. The city hired John A. Kelley to construct the building. Kelley was a leading contractor of the period. Among his other projects were the Catholic Church, the Chautaugua Auditorium and the major renovations of the First Methodist Church. Kelley's bid, whether by accident or design, matched Carnegie's gift of $10,000.
Construction on the building began in the latter part of 1903. By May, the thirty two-hundred pound columns were hoisted into place. Annie Wallace, a professional librarian from Atlanta, advised the architect on the interior design of the building. The building was accepted in mid September of 1904. The opening was delayed several times until November 7, 1904. School and library board president Frank G. Corker, Annie Wallace, and three visiting Presbyterian ministers spoke to a capacity crowd. Mrs. E.J. Blackshear played the violin accompanied by Mrs. J.A. Peacock on the piano.
Strict regulations were placed on patrons of the new library. Anyone wishing to check out books had to make a written application attested to by two prominent citizens of Dublin. There were no fees to city residents but non residents were charged three dollars per year. The library began by opening six days per week from nine a.m. to nine p.m. with hour breaks for lunch and supper.
The initial collection of 300 books came from private donations. Judge Peyton Wade donated several hundred of his three thousand books. The contractor John Kelley joined Dr. Duggan in contributing two hundred dollars for new books. The city appointed Frank G. Corker (President), James S. Simons, Jr. (Vice President), J.E. Smith, Jr., H.M. Stanley (Secretary), A.R. Arnau (Treasurer), G.H. Williams, Peyton L. Wade, H.G. Stevens, and A.T. Summerlin to the Library Board of Directors. Emma Manning, the first librarian, resigned shortly after she was hired. Miss Lily Hightower was then elected and served for seventeen years.
One of the first fund raising events for the new Carnegie Library was held at the high school auditorium. Professor William Irving Fayssoux displayed his talents as a clairvoyant and physcic. The proceeds from the event went to the book fund of the new library. At three o'clock, Fayssoux blindfolded himself. He then drove madly and daringly over the main streets of Dublin. He promised the crowd that he could find a letter which had been hidden by a prominent Dublinite. Whether he actually found the letter remains a mystery, mainly due to the fact that half of the newspapers of the period are missing.
In March of 1905, the library set aside a section for the establishment of a war museum. The museum featured artifacts of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars along with some Indian relics. In 1912, a monument to the soldiers of the Confederacy was unveiled on the grounds. In the mid 1920's a holly tree was planted on the grounds. Today the tree, which has split into two trunks, serves as the community Christmas Tree which is lit annually to raise funds for the Pilot's Club Life Line project.
Everyone in Dublin was proud of their new library. One morning in June of 1912, Miss Lily Hightower was working in her office in the Carnegie Library when she decided to leave her chair for a few moments. All of a sudden a hundred-pound chunk of ceiling plaster fell directly on the chair recently vacated by Miss Hightower. The result was the pressed metal ceiling you see today in the library, now home of the Dublin- Laurens Museum.
The library continued to grow despite very few funding increases. In twenty years, the circulation had grown from three thousand books per quarter to eight thousand books per quarter. The first Laurens County Library was established in 1938. The ladies of the Parnassus Club sponsored a library for county residents. The library was located in the county office building on East Madison Street, which served formerly as the post office from 1912 until 1936. Virginia Graves served as the first and only librarian. After a few months of operation, the Laurens County Library merged with the Carnegie Library. County-wide service began with the help of the W.P.A. which funded a traveling librarian. The new service was made also made possible by funds from the Laurens County Commissioners and the County School Board.
Johnson Street Elementary School
Saxon Heights Elementary School
The Early History of Saxon Heights and Johnson Street Schools
For most of the 19th century, the schools of Dublin and Laurens County were relatively small and usually only one story tall. The first substantial school in Dublin was located near the front of the current day City Hall. It was a simplistic two-story structure which also doubled as the lodge hall for the Laurens Lodge No. 75F. and A.M.. The first true school house was constructed in the late 1880s on Academy Avenue. "The Academy" was located to the rear of and between the current office and home of Dr. Fred Moorman. When the janitor allegedly burned the school in January of 1901, Dublin was without a school house. City fathers quickly got together and constructed a modern day two-story brick school which today is home to the city government of Dublin. The new school handled all grades from first to eleventh - they only had eleven in those days.
During the middle of the first decade of the 20th century the northeastern section of Dublin was the most rapidly growing section of city. School board members realized that the High School could not serve all of the new children. John M. Williams, Frank G. Corker, and W.A. Wood were appointed to supervise the building of the new grammar school. The committee, having had no bids submitted on the project, turned to local architect, Rev. George C. Thompson. Rev. Thompson, who designed over a twenty buildings and homes in the city, served as Supernumerary of the Dublin District of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The city chose a site comprising a half-block lying between North Franklin, Johnson, and North Washington Streets. The building was erected in a short period of time at a cost of $10,000.00. The two-story wooden building faced Johnson Street but had arched entrances on all four sides. The building, which was opened in January of 1906, contained eight large classrooms equipped with the most modern equipment. At the apex of the roof was a widow's walk. One interesting feature of the school was the black paint on the exterior of the second floor. This building was used for almost forty five years before being replaced by a modern brick structure. The brick building still stands but is no longer used as an elementary school.
One interesting feature of the original school was the fire escape. At the front corner of the building the contractors placed a slide leading from the second floor to the ground below. Oh what fun fire drills must have been in those days. After school, kids tirelessly climbed the slide from the bottom to the top and slid back down again.
W.M. McLauren, J.W. Mosley, Ruth Kinard, Mrs. W.W. Ward along with others served as principals during the early years. Among the early teachers were Ruth Smith, Hope Chavous, Sara Howard, Nellie Foster, May Robinson, Alma Carrere, Roberta Smith, Ann Braddy, Ethel Shelor, Mala Stanley, Elma Maxwell and Mildred Bishop.
Near the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, Dublin's growth shifted to the southwest along Smith Street in an area known as "Quality Hill". The citizens in the area demanded a school on their side of town. In 1908, the school board voted to build a school on a hill at the western end of Smith Street just west of Saxon Street. The land was purchased from Thomas H. Rowe, whose second wife was named Emma Saxon Guyton Rowe. Saxon Heights School had eight large classrooms and a small auditorium upstairs. The Saxon Heights School building, which opened in 1909, was striking similar to Johnson Street with only minor facial changes. The building, like its sister Johnson Street School, was occupied about forty five years, before giving way to a modern brick school building, which is still in use today.
Mrs. E.C. Campbell was one of the first principals and served a number of years. Among the early teachers were Ida Belle Williams, Minnie May Green, Zoe Hightower, Carrie Shropshire, Hope Chavous, Ethel Hall, Gertrude Pierce, Dora Belle Shewmake, Mrs. R.Y. Beckham, and Josephine Harrison.
Today, school fund raisers realize thousands of dollars with parents selling stuff to their friends and relatives. Eight decades ago the students of Saxon Heights School were trying to raise money for a Victrola. They sold lunches and candy, realizing a nice profit. For fun they put on a "tacky party", minstrel show, and races. The students staged a show featuring impersonations of the faculty. The admission charge was ten cents.
Both schools had a parallel history for over 80 years. They were nearly identical in design. They were the last of the wooden school houses in Dublin. Both schools were replaced with the help of the State of Georgia in the years following World War II. Neither school truly faced the streets for which they were named. Johnson Street School always seemed to face North Franklin Street and Saxon Heights Elementary, which was also known as Saxon Street School, faces Smith Street and originally faced Grady Street and overlooked Telfair Street. Johnson Street School is no more, while Saxon Heights Elementary is completing its 88th year of educating our children. While Dublin High School is well over a century old and has been located on four sites, Saxon Heights Elementary, is the oldest school in Laurens County still on its original site.