Historic Markers Across Alabama

Harris Barrett School

Marker ID: AHC 
County: Macon
Waymark: None


Harris Barrett School

The SIC built this two-room school in 1904 and named it for Harris Barrett, graduate and cashier of Hampton Institute and SIC bookkeeper. Local farmers took up Booker T. Washington's call for education and committed proceeds from one acre of their farms to extend the school year. At its height, the"Brick School” enrolled 200 students for a three-term year, summer, fall and winter - spring. The first faculty was Lottie Greene, wife of the farm manager at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute and Marie Chambliss, sister of the SIC farm manager. They also used the schoolhouse for Mothers' Meetings, Tuskegee Institute-sponsored farmers' conferences, agricultural courses, Farmers Institutes and demonstrations by the Jesup Agricultural Wagon, a George Washington Carver designed"Movable School.” The Harris Barrett School continued to operate until 1958. It was listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2006.

The Southern Improvement Company (SIC)

In 1900, northern philanthropists, Hampton Institute trustee Robert Ogden and Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute trustee William Baldwin, Jr., formed the Southern Improvement Company. The SIC purchased approximately 4,500 acres in Macon County to provide black tenants the opportunity to buy up to 80 acres of land and become independent farmers. At its height, the SIC helped over 65 families buy land. Alexander Purves, treasurer at Hampton Institute managed the finances and Tuskegee graduate William Chambliss managed the farms. The SIC supplied the farmers with a saw mill, grist mill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop and brick-making facilities for house foundations and chimneys. The"Southern Improvement Community” was also called"Purves”,"Harris Barrett” and"The Forties”. It later became known as"Big Hungry,” reflecting its economic decline due to depressed cotton prices, the boll weevil and poor soil. The SIC sold its remaining assets to Chambliss in 1919.

End of Harris Barrett School