Historic Winterville School and Auditorium Restoration Project

Walk through the double front doors of the Winterville High School and stand at the foot of the grand staircase. If you are very quiet, you just might hear the spring wind blow cords of sound through broken windows and empty rooms. Let your imagination drift and perhaps you will catch a top note of youthful laughter, an undertone of fluttering textbook pages, the growl of a hand-turned pencil sharpener, or the faint clatter of dishes from the cafeteria area, all comfortable sounds that may have lingered in this old building for almost a century.

These echoes from the past are gentle reminders of all the young people who began their life journey within the walls of the school buildings located on this plot of ground in the heart of Winterville. Recently, the City of Winterville acquired the deeds to two of the remaining four historic buildings: the Winterville High School and the Winterville Auditorium. The buildings sit side by side, the last vestige of several schools located on that site since 1880. History records that all the school buildings situated here served as both teaching spaces and as the center of community activity for the area.

 We are a small town … with a small budget … and a big vision.

The Historic Winterville School Building is a two-story stucco structure built in 1918. A brick addition was constructed in 1939. The building housed classes from the date of construction until the last class graduated in 1956. The Athens Board of Education then used the space for various purposes including storage until it was abandoned a decade ago. A special historical note is that the first teacher-training program for Vocational Agriculture and Home Economics was hosted around 1920 by the school. This was a cooperative venture between the Winterville School and the University of Georgia.

Winterville Auditorium, a 450-seat hall next door to the Historic Winterville School, also will be restored. Once the site of recitals, pageants, concerts, and plays, the Winterville Auditorium was abandoned in 2002. Since such events must now be held at venues outside of Winterville, the expectation of hosting a vibrant performing arts calendar for both the city and surrounding area is an exciting prospect for the citizens.

It is anticipated that the auditorium will also be a much-used location for essential governmental meetings, public/private conferences, and assemblies for training/education.

As a community, we have met in public planning forums; created working committees focusing on various aspects of the restoration; retained an architectural firm for consultation with planning; and are actively pursuing various funding avenues. The Mayor and City Council of Winterville are enthusiastic participants in this restoration project.

We need financial support to make the restoration a reality. To curb further deterioration, the buildings must be immediately stabilized at an estimated cost of $566,560. Total restoration of the two buildings is projected to be around $1,969,000. Funding of this project has become a personal challenge for members of the community.

Floor plans:  1st floor     2nd floor

Timeline History

Timeline History of the Winterville School Buildings 









Rev. Coile

First School in Winterville

Consolidated with Rev Harris' school

Circa 1880


Rev. Harris

Second school in Winterville

Consolidated with Rev Coile's school

Mid 1880's


Revs. Coile & Harris


First combined school in Winterville.  A three room building with dividers that could make one community activity area


Used and expanded until 1916 when sold to Clarke County


Existing Structure Enlarged


Grammar School and only high school in rural area of Clarke County

Torn down in 1916



Clarke County Board of Education and donations from Winterville citizens

Grades 1-11...Six classrooms downstairs; upstairs consisted of two classrooms and an auditorium used by school and community

Burned in 1940


Wooden two-story

Clark County Board of Education

First Vocational Education instructional and teacher training site in GA

Standing but abandoned in 1990's

Circa 1929

Wooden gymnasium

Legacy from local individual and donations from citizens

Gym and community functions

Burned 1959


Addition to Voc Ed Building

CCB of Ed

With addition, became solely a high school

Standing but abandoned



Federal Monies

Vocational Ed building

Burned 1940


Brick Classroom

CCB of Ed

Grammar School

Standing and occupied by RESA


Brick Classroom

CCB of Ed, Clarke County Commissioners, State Bd of Voc Ed, UGA College of Ed

Vocational and Education building

Standing and occupied by RESA



Brick Auditorium


CCB of Ed and donations from local citizens headed by efforts of Civitan Club

School and community functions


Burned on opening night, 1950



Brick Auditorium

CCB of Ed and donations from Winterville citizens

School and community functions

Standing but abandoned in 2002

National / GA Register

Summary of Proposed National Register/Georgia Register of Historic Places Nomination

 Resulting in Winterville Schools being placed on National/Georgia Register in 2001.
  1. Name:  Winterville Schools
  2. Location:  the property is bounded by North Church Street, Smithonia Road and Winter Street in Winterville, Clarke County, Georgia
  3. Description:
  1. The Winterville Schools are located one block northeast of Main Street in a residential area of Winterville, GA.  The nomination is comprised of four adjacent school buildings:  Winterville High School, Vocational Building, Winterville Elementary School, and Winterville School Auditorium.  Built in 1920, the Winterville High School is  two-story, foursquare building with a hipped roof and exterior stucco.  The six-over-six, double-hung windows are paired.  The interior consists of four classrooms separated by a central hallway on each floor.  All the rooms have plaster walls, wainscoting, tongue-and-groove ceilings, and wood floors.   A one-story brick ell addition was added to the building in 1935.  Changes to the high school include removing the original Craftsman-style portico and replacing it with a portico with metal posts in the 1960's.  Located adjacent to the high school, the Winterville School Auditorium was constructed in 1953 to replace an auditorium that was constructed in 1949 and destroyed by fire in 1950.  The auditorium is a one-story, brick building with a parapet roof.  It is characterized by its simple design with a recessed entry supported by two columns and brick pilasters and steel casement windows along the side facades. The interior is comprised of a large open seating area and stage with rear dressing room.
  2. Date of Development:  1920 and 1953
  3. Acreage: 1 acre
  4. Boundary Explanation:  The proposed boundary encompasses the four school buildings and is the current legal boundary of the property.
  • National Register Criteria:  A and C
  1. National Register Areas of Significance: Architecture and Education
  2. Statement of Significance:  The Winterville Schools are significant in terms of architecture as an excellent collection of public school buildings constructed in Georgia in the early 20th century.  The Winterville High School retains its simple interior details such as wood floors and ceilings, wainscoting, blackboards, four-panel doors, and simple exterior features.  The Winterville Schools are significant in terms of education for their association with a program established by the University of Georgia in the 1920's to train vocational teachers for secondary schools.
  3. Suggested Level of Significance:  Local
  • Sponsor:  The nomination materials were prepared by the Northeast Georgia Regional Education Service Agency, who is also sponsoring the nomination.

The Winterville High School Story 1896 - 1954

Want to know even more about the Winterville High School and it's history, students and teachers?

Ready the full story here! 

(The files are large and may take longer to load depending on your computer.)

Part 1 Winterville High School Story (Pages 1-51)

Part 2 Winterville High School Story (Pages 52-98)

Part 3 Winterville High School Story (Pages 99-141)

Part 4 Winterville High School Story (Pages 142-193)

Part 5 Winterville High School Story (Pages 194-236)

Part 6 Winterville High School Story (Pages 236-264)

News Articles

Monday, March 1, 2010 - ABH (pdf)
Friday, February 12, 2010 - ABH (pdf)
Saturday, November 7, 2009 - ABH (pdf)
Thursday, November 5, 2009 - ABH (pdf)
Thursday, June 11, 2009 - ABH (pdf)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 - ABH (pdf)

Friday, June 4, 2010
Hittin' the Roof! The Winterville Auditorium was a disaster area! The existing roof system had failed--water was flooding the interior during every rain. Mold and mildew covered surfaces. Plaster was falling and floors were rotting. Something had to be done and done right away!

A plan of action was designed to seal the building and avert further water damage. The first step was to abate all of the asbestos from the building and roof. The old rolled roofing was removed and repairs were made to the roof structure. New decking was put down and soon the new metal roof will be installed. The next step will be to sandblast the metal window frames, re-glaze the windows and hang new exterior doors. The building will then be waterproof and ready for the next segments in the restoration process.
As funds become available, renovation of the interior space will begin including new wall and floor coverings, a ceiling, seating, stage curtains, and an audio-visual system. A new heating and air conditioning unit and additional restrooms will complete this initial phase of the restoration.
We are on our way to a state-of-the-art event venue right here in Winterville!

Monday, May 3, 2010
The Historic Winterville Auditorium is being rescued! Work began in April to stop the intense water damage the building has suffered the past decade. The project began with a specialized crew decked out in haz-mat “space suits” working to remove all asbestos from the building. This involved scraping tiles and mastic from the floor, removing putty from around the windows and removing layers of roofing material.

Next, the condition of the roof was accessed….and, miraculously, the roof needs only minimal repairs to the supporting structure. The next step will be the installation of a metal roof system.

New fascia boards around the perimeter of the structure will insure that water will no longer pour into the building like a tropical waterfall.

The windows will be restored in a manner that follows historical preservation guidelines as the building is around fifty years old and located in the Historical District of Winterville. New exterior doors will complete the waterproofing and provide security to the building.

Interior and exterior restoration, including replacing the damaged opera-style seating will have to wait until more funds are secured for the project. The Winterville Historical Restoration Committee will immediately begin searching for appropriate grants for the Auditorium.

Just think about the possibilities that await the citizens of Winterville and the surrounding area when this restoration project is completed and we have an outstanding venue for performing arts right here in the center of the City——amazing things are happening on Church Street!

Interior Condition of School
Prior to Renovations


Interior Condition of Auditorium


Winterville High School Basketball Teams in the 1950's

Former Mayor Jim Mercer & Council started the ball rolling on this project in 2010.