Houghton building purchase complete

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The Houghton School has moved a couple steps closer to once again being filled with the sounds of children's voices, a milestone that would return the facility to its original mission and rejuvenate the Olde Town neighborhood.

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Heritage Academy board member Phin Hitchcock (left) gives civic leaders a tour of the old Houghton School building on Greene Street in downtown Augusta.  Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Heritage Academy board member Phin Hitchcock (left) gives civic leaders a tour of the old Houghton School building on Greene Street in downtown Augusta.

Heritage Academy, a small Christian school with a focus on low-income children, announced Tuesday that the purchase of the facility is official. Director of Development Helen Morgan also announced that $1.7 million already has been donated to renovate the facility and allow it to hold classes in August. That includes $250,000 from the Boardman family, $500,000 from The Knox Foundation and $500,000 from the Morris Communications Foundation.

Gazing around the vacant, cavernous room with its bare floors and exposed walls, the young schoolchildren declared it was "awesome" and "wonderful."

Maegan McCraney, 8, is confident the old school will be "beautiful."

"I know it's going to be beautiful, but it's not done yet," she said.

Her classmate, Craig Watts, 8, agreed, calling the facility "awesome."

Currently, the school is housed at the old Curtis Baptist High School on Broad Street near Lake Olmstead. Heritage Academy began in 2001 with 10 pupils and has grown to 80 and added grades. When it moves to the old Houghton School, it will be the first time it has owned its facilities.

The move has been made possible through donations to the "Continuing the Heritage" capital campaign and 8,000 volunteer hours.

That shows that people "get it," that they understand the importance of investing in children, said Earnest Smith, a 12-year resident of Olde Town and vice president of its neighborhood association.

"You can't have a community without children," he said.

Heritage Academy Executive Director Linda Tucciarone said the education of children is something everyone can support, noting that Augusta has played a "significant" role in education with Ware High School, the first black public high school in the South after reconstruction, and schools such as the Academy of Richmond County and Tubman Junior High, an all-girls school.

"I want our children to have the feeling they are stepping into the flow of history," she said.

Mr. Smith welcomed Heritage Academy to his neighborhood, seeing it as a springboard for the community.

"With the building that is going on all around this and with the economic development that is happening in Augusta, we can probably see this region as being one of the jewels of Augusta," he said.

The Houghton School opened in 1853 and was built to educate low-income children in a time before public schools. It burned during the fire of 1916 and was moved to its current location at 333 Greene St., until it closed in 2000.

School, city and neighborhood officials said they are excited about the school's reopening.

"It's not just talk that a new day is coming," Dr. Tucciarone said. "It has started. It is here."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

WAYS TO GIVE


Heritage Academy will continue to need gifts of time and money if it is to hold class in the old Houghton School in August. To donate or volunteer, call Heritage Academy at (706) 733-2980. The school is also looking to preserve memories of Houghton and is asking anyone with memorabilia to contact the school as well.

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work for a living
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work for a living 01/17/07 - 09:41 am
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I think this is a great idea

I think this is a great idea but what bothers me is us the middle class have no opportunity for these type of things for our kids. We get no free, medical, groceries, day care, after school programs (free), school supples, etc. We pay our way, we aren't rich and when we pay for all that we are not eligible for we are just as bad off as what is considered the lower income except we go to work and pay for all of these things and then we don't have enough to send our children to a private school. So if you don't work and live off of the system your children have more opportunities to succeed. How christian is that?

Does_it_really_matter
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Does_it_really_matter 01/17/07 - 10:20 am
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amen, neighbor of jb.

amen, neighbor of jb.

galaxygrl
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galaxygrl 01/17/07 - 11:40 am
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I have been to the academy

I have been to the academy and you can't help but get caught up in what they are doing. There is hope there for many who would never have seen it. I am sure great things will come from this school. Volunteer there, you can make a difference too!

Painter
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Painter 01/17/07 - 12:13 pm
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If you want your kids in

If you want your kids in Heritage the best thing to do is apply. I believe they opperate on tuition with grant assistance on a case by case basis. I think God expects us to work for our needs and to give out of our abundance so that those who cannot provide for their own needs can have their needs met. That is the Christian way as mandated by the Bible.

cantwejustgetoverit
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cantwejustgetoverit 01/17/07 - 03:54 pm
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I understand the message your

I understand the message your preaching Painter but I think the point is that the middle class is not as "abundant" as your implying it is. The middle class is the backbone of society. I agree with JB. I have to pay for my own medical, dental, life, disability, and numerous other things that so called poorer people get for free. I have a friend that had her children "free" due to being on assistance. I have to build up sick leave days just to have maternity leave with pay AND pay a deductable. It is sicking to know that if I really get sick I will have no income to help pay MY bills. The Christian way also tells you not to lay around and expect a hand out either. Many biblical people worked hard. Harder than most of today's society. Yet, there was no hand outs for lazy people to sit around and pop out babies they can't feed. Christian kindness and assistance was given to those that were physically unable or worked hard yet still couldn't make ends meet. It is an unfair system and I do not see it getting any better. The middle will always have to pay up and that is just a fact.

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