Sallie Ellis Davis
Born in the mid-1870s to Josh Ellis and Elizabeth Brunswick, Sallie Ellis was the product of the union between a prominent merchant, landowner and gentleman farmer and an African American mother. Native to Baldwin County and gifted with a drive to be educated and to educate, Sallie enrolled as a student at Atlanta University, and earned her Normal School degree in 1899. Upon completion of her degree, Sallie returned to Baldwin County as a teacher and administrator at the local Eddy School of Milledgeville. Although her degree was completed, Sallie maintained correspondence with some of the noted historical figures of the day such as George Washington Carver and W.E.B. Du Bois. In an effort to ensure that the educators of Milledgeville remained among the very best in their field, she took several trips to Tuskeegee to further her professional prowess. By 1910, Sallie Ellis had moved into the heart of Milledgeville and taken up residence in the house that bears her name today. In 1911, she met and married John (Jack) Davis, a local businessman, while continuing her dreams of being an educator. Although he passed away in 1920, Sallie remained in the house until her death in 1950. Additions to the house along with census reports and personal accounts show that Mrs. Davis had allocated half of her home as a boarding house. Because the Eddy School was the only school in the area that was available to black students in the Segregated South, it catered to a wide ranging area. With this being the case, students were forced to travel from great distances in order to receive an education. While Sallie was an educator first, she ensured that if students were not able to make the commute to the Eddy School, they had the opportunity to live with her as a boarder. Her contributions to the field of education speak of her legacy, and the testament of her life’s work remains as both a historically protected landmark and an arts center.
The Sallie Ellis Davis Cultural Art's Center Renovation
In late 2008, Georgia College President Dorothy Leland and Chair of the Sallie Ellis Davis Foundation Carolyn Thomas announced that Georgia College would be embarking on an exciting partnership to renovate this historic site. In October 2008, the house was listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation's Annual Places in Peril. Coinciding with this designation was Georgia College's announcement to form a partnership with the Sallie Davis Foundation – comprised of a group of the educator's former students – to renovate the house and open it as a cultural center. This project provides Georgia College with a unique opportunity to further build the relationship between the university and the local community.