Lee School: 110 Years old and still going
March & April,
Lee was first organized under the name of Locust Grove School
in a one room 16 x 18 log cabin in 1896 and served all school
grades. It is said to have been the first high school in the
Cobb County system.
It is currently named "Fitzhugh Lee Center of Haven Academy"
and it is classified as a Transitional Learning Center. The
classes address students with language and behavioral problems.
It is located in the unincorporated area of Cobb County 1.5
miles south of the Smyrna city limits and 3.3
miles from the Smyrna Museum and Market Village.
histories of the school have been written over the years and
this article has been prepared from those records, newspaper
articles, personal interviews with former students and principals
and other materials at the Smyrna Museum.
Maner and his wife Alyce are members of the Smyrna Historical
Society and "retired" volunteers at the Museum.
Harry is the great grand son of Robert William Maner who was
one of the people who donated (sold it for $1.00) the land
for the original school. J. W. Brown was the other one.
The land is located on a high ridge in District 17 Section
2, land lot 748 in the Oakdale area of unincorporated Cobb
County that today gives a breathtaking view of the downtown
history in the 1942 Gray Book (yearbook) stated "A small
tract of land was given by Wiley Brown and R. W. Maner, for
the erecting of a school building for the children, either
rich or poor of this community.
was only 16 x 18 feet, and the furnishings were very poor.
The seats were made of pine slabs supported by pegs driven
into poles, two at each end. On one side of the room, nails
were driven into the wall for the children's coats and hats.
In the summer two poles were attached to the roof and covered
with limbs and this "brush arbor" was used as a
classroom. There were only 15 students in the school when
it first opened.
5, 1899 Robert William Maner donated an additional tract of
land which was located "on the west side where the line
crosses the old wagon road. (Presently named West Atlanta
Road) That plot ran 70 yards south, 35 yards west, 70 yards
north, and 30 yards east to the point of beginning.
of land from R. W. Maner to the School Trustees J. H. Carmichael,
J. W. Brown and E. L. Herren is recorded in book Y, page 410
in the Cobb Superior Court Records.
addition to the school property took place on August 24, 1923
from R. W. Maner to the Trustees. It adjoined the previous
property and was 58 feet south along Atlanta Road to a point
then west 80 feet, north 70 feet, and east 62 feet to the
point of beginning.
of the deeds transferring the property to the School Trustees
contained a clause that stated the property would revert to
the original owners or their heirs if the land was not used
for public school purposes. That technicality probably prevented
the school property from being sold by the Cobb Board of Education
a few years ago.
the highlights in the life of the Locust Grove/Fitzhugh Lee
School have been gleaned from a variety of histories over
1915 A three room frame building was constructed on the
first PTA was organized in 1916.
school operated with grades 1 - 8 until 1930.
- A 9th
grade was added in 1930.
- A 10th
grade was added in 1934
11th grade was added and 1935 was the first year of a high
school graduating class. The 10 graduates were: James Bolling,
Ernest Brown, Martha Buford, Herman Buckner, Elizabeth Crowder,
Remoh Elizabeth Dempsey, Bessie Ruth Jordan, Hugh Monroe
and Dixie Wright.
On September 16, 1936 the name of the school was changed
from Locust Grove to honor Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, a descendant
of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Dedication services
were held on September 29, 1936.
auditorium was added in 1936.
1937 a moving picture machine (movie projector) was purchased
by the PTA
school continued as a first through 11th grade until 1952.
That year the high school students were consolidated with
Smyrna High School and both classes became the first graduating
class of the newly constructed Campbell High School.
- 53 was the first year Fitzhugh Lee was operated as an
the primary building with the cafeteria in the lower level
1966 19 Fitzhugh Lee became a Grade 1- 7 school when Cobb
County constructed some Junior High School buildings to
open that year.
next year the 7th grade was transferred to a junior high
school and Fitzhugh Lee became a 1 - 6 school.
- A unique
situation occurred in the 1968 - 69 year when a former student
(Robert B. "Bob" Reese) who had attended all grades
and graduated in 1942, became the principal and remained
in the summer of 1974 resulted in some of the ceilings being
lowered, new lighting fixtures in the central building installed
and, carpet installed over the hardwood floors in the halls
and the Media Center.
- A Kindergarten
was begun in the school in 1977 under the Title III program.
The next year the Kindergarten became a regular part of
the public school program.
in 1978 the classrooms in the central building were carpeted
and later the classrooms and hall in the primary building.
the late 1980's, under the leadership of principal James
Lavender the school instituted "Old Fashioned Days.(Pioneer
Days) This was a special time when the class rooms would
be turned into a kaleidoscope activities to introduce the
students to "how things used to be." Teachers,
guest instructors and entertainers would dress in period
costumes and work clothes of the particular trade or activity
they were portraying. Students would be circulated through
each room for a 20 or 30-minute tour. They could participate
in singing, using old tools, dancing, asking questions,
etc. This program continued until the regular operation
of the school was discontinued in 1998.
1996 in an effort to improve the quality of instructions
the school established a mentoring program and invited individuals
and area civic organizations to assist in the program.
April 27, 1996 all former Fitzhugh Lee and Locust Grove
students, faculty and friends were invited to attend the
100th anniversary celebration at the school. Three former
teacher/principals were in attendance along with the then
current principal James Lavender: The others were: Bob Reese,
Peyton McQuarry and Bob Ash.
continued its operation as an elementary school until the
end of the school year in 1998.
fall of 2000, Fitzhugh Lee was tabbed as the International
Newcomer Academy. At the beginning only 50 students would
be admitted to the academy. They were to be drawn from eight
elementary and middle schools in the Smyrna area: Argyle,
Fair Oaks, Green Acres, King Springs, Labelle, Norton Park,
Campbell Middle and Griffin Middle.
mentioned in the early part of this article, it now operates
as a Transitional Learning Center.
the school was nearing its closing as a traditional elementary
school, the Smyrna Museum was able to secure most of the trophies
the various athletic teams had won over the years, a series
of class photos and many of the scrap books compiled by the
materials are on hand at the museum for research. In addition
to all those hundreds of items we received from the school,
Historical Society member and Museum Volunteer, and former
student at Fitzhugh Lee student, Mary Annie Johnson has made
it part of her activities to obtain a great deal of information
on the School.
original yearbooks and in some cases, copies of yearbooks
, photos and a variety of memorabilia to make a large collection
of Fitzhugh Lee items for the museum. The following are currently
on display in the exhibit area:
1935, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948,
Photo Books for the following Years:
58-59; 59-60; 61-62; 62-63; 65-66; 66-67; 67-68; 68-69; 69-70;70-71;
71-72; 72-73; 73-74; 1976, 1976-77; 77-78;, 78-79; 79-80;
80-81; 81-82; 82-83; 84-84; 84-85; 1986; 1986-87; 87-88; 1989;
1991-92; 92-93; 93-94; 96-97; 97-98;
none of the students or the teachers are identified in the
photos. We will appreciate anyone who might have attended
Fitzhugh Lee during the years mentioned above to come by the
museum and help identify the people in the photo books.
The following have been identified as Principals of the school.
You will note that some of the names are incomplete and some
of them do not have the dates of service. If any of you have
knowledge that would shed some light on the missing information,
we will appreciate it very much if you will share that with
Morris Mabrey 1922
Bill Strickland 1933-34
Evans Hall 1934-35
Roger Enloe 1935-37
C. H. King 1937-39
R. H. Harris 1939-40
R. L. Todd 1940-43
R. A. Teasley 1943- Dec, 47
Robert L. Ash Jan.48 - June 48
Ralph Quarles 1948-52
O. L. Parker 1952-63
Gale G. Acuff 1963-68
Robert B. Reese 1968-81
Peyton McQuary 1981-87
James Lavender 1987-98
= First Name Unknown
have Fitzhugh Lee or any other school memorabilia that you
would like to make available to present and future citizens
of Smyrna and the Cobb County area, please think about donating
it to the Smyrna Museum. That way you can have the joy of
sharing you memories now.
Fitzhugh Lee principal Bob Reese is a frequent visitor to
the museum and has donated some of the materials mentioned
above. Another former principal, James Lavender donated the
following letter to the Museum.
dated September 9, 1924 and is on the letterhead of W. C.
Chastain, Experienced Physician and surgeon. The dateline
of Ellijay, GA has been marked out and replaced with Smyrna,
GA RFD 2, c/o J. F. Lee. It gives a brief description of what
the school was like in 1924.
is a fifth grade teacher needed here
at Locus Grove and I recommended you.
to Mr. Lee, the trustee asked me to write
to you offering you the place. It pays
$70.00 per month and board is $20.00. We have six teachers
and the nicest school building I ever saw. We are ten miles
from Atlanta on the car line. Write me by return mail for
we want you to begin Monday. It would pay you to come to Ellijay
and mail the letter. If I come home Friday you could come
back with me.
Mrs. W. C. Chastain
have information, additional photos, or corrections or think
you might be able to identify some of the teachers or students
in the class photos please call Mary Annie Johnson at 770
435 7351 or Harold Smith at 770 435 7549. Or email Harold
Smith at Smitharold@aol.com.
W. O. Smitha was shown as principal in the 1943 Yearbook in
of Fitzhugh Lee will continue in the next issue of Lives and