Spring Place School
Murray County, Georgia
Spring Place School, which traces its origins to the Moravian mission, is the oldest educational facility in northwest Georgia. The school, sponsored by Chief James Vann, was established by the Moravians in 1801 when the Cherokee Nation still held North Georgia — long before Murray County existed. Thousands of people have benefited from instruction received at the succeeding schools in this historic town, once the county seat of Murray County.
The "old" Spring Place Elementary was replaced in 1969 by the current school on Leonard Bridge Road, but the old building still stands at the corner of Highway 225 and Tibbs Bridge Road in Spring Place. This was not the first site for the historical educational institution, however. The original Springplace (one word back then) Mission School was located off Ellijay Street near what is today called "the old gym site" at the spring which gives the town — and the school — its name. At the turn of the 20th century this was the location of a large school called Lucy Hill Institute. After the county seat was moved to Chatsworth, the former county courthouse in Spring Place became the home of Lucy Hill High School. The last class graduated in 1934 with the creation of Murray County High.
In the 1920s, the old Institute building had been replaced by the brick structure across from the courthouse on Georgia Highway 225. A large wooden gymnasium was later erected at the old Institute site. The brick building was enlarged when the courthouse was torn down in 1956. The gym burned in the early 1960s, but that original property is still owned by the Murray County Board of Education. The brick building was eventually sold to private owners.
Two teachers who spent much of their long careers at Spring Place were Mrs. Estelle Townsend and Mrs. Jean Ballew. Through the years, students attended schools variously called Lucy Hill Institute, Lucy Hill High School, Lucy Hill Grammar School, and finally Spring Place (two words!) Elementary.
For many years an annual reunion was held to commemorate school days in Spring Place. Spring Place School alumni reunions are sponsored by the Spring Place Historic Township and the Spring Place Ruritan Club.
History by Tim Howard of Whitfield-Murray Historical Society