The dream of the 1890s may be alive in Portland, but this week we’re bringing the 1890s alive in Milledgeville. Welcome back to part two of a three part series on Georgia Normal and Industrial College life, fashion, behavior, and education at the founding of G.N. & I.C. and the turn of the century in Milledgeville. After reading about the fashion and uniforms of the college in 1891, you may be wondering where these girls kept their uniforms and rested their heads for full days of studying. To answer those questions, we’re going to dive into room and board.
One of the biggest points of stress for today’s students is the small, yet imperative question of what their freshmen dorm room will look like! Everywhere from Target to Walmart to Bed, Bath, and Beyond has college essential checklists, and students across the Georgia College campus coordinate their color schemes, tapestries, and Christmas lights, and compete for a chance to win Best Decorated Dorm Room in the many diverse dorm buildings across campus – ranging from Bell Hall on Main Campus; Sanford, Parks, Foundation, Napier, and Parkhurst Halls by the Centennial Center; and the Village Apartments on West Campus.
Upon our founding, still struggling to see if this experiment in women’s industrial (or women’s technical) school would come to fruition and success, the only dorm available was the Executive Mansion, or known by its common name around Milledgeville, the Old Governor’s Mansion. The Mansion stopped housing governors after General Thomas H. Ruger, the military governor of Georgia, left the building in 1868; after this abandonment, it had fallen into disrepair and served an ever changing list of uses including flophouse (a very cheap, run down, boarding house) and as a home and dormitory for the President and Cadets at Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College. Among other elements of disrepair include an 1870 kitchen fire, leaking around the dome, and a herd of goats that took up residence on the front lawn.
With all of these problems, how could the mansion ever hope to house these young women? With no source of funding readily apparent to the newly elected directors of the college, it seemed like this housing issue was insurmountable. However, this was solved by the faith the people of Milledgeville placed in the success of the college by voting for bonds to assist construction, $5,000 of which was bookmarked specifically for the purposes of refurbishing the Mansion. This money went towards refurbishing the building by replacing the plaster with stained wood ceilings, the window blinds with inside shutters, and placing a gothic cupola over the dome, as well as towards constructing 35 dormitories.