The Academy of Richmond County is one of the earliest chartered boys' schools in the country, founded in 1783. In 1802 Richard Clarke designed a building for the academy, which William Henry Goodrich transformed and enlarged in 1856–1857 to create the Tudor-Gothic Revival building preserved today as the Old Richmond Academy. Sited adjacent to the 1934–1936 Greek Revival Old Medical College of Georgia, these two buildings represent the two dominant architectural styles of the immediate antebellum period. The neo-Gothic and Tudoresque design of the Old Richmond Academy includes battlements at rooftop parapets, Tudor arches treated as dripstones over windows, and a cast-iron colonnade on the front elevation.
The boys’ academy continued to function until 1863, when Confederate authorities used it as a hospital administrative building for two years. It was then occupied by Union troops, who set up administrative headquarters. It reopened as a school in 1868, but Richmond Academy moved to a new building near Summerville in 1926. From 1928 until 1960, the Young Men’s Library Association used the ground floor of the Telfair Street building, while the Augusta Museum utilized the upper floor beginning in 1933. After the library moved out, the museum occupied the entire building until 1994, before relocating to a new facility on Reynolds Street. The building is still owned and maintained by the Trustees of the Academy of Richmond County, authorized by the original legislation of 1783.
The school’s charter granted powers to the Trustees of Richmond Academy to raise money through the sale of lots in Augusta both for a “seminary of learning” and a church. The charter required that the academy building be used only for educational purposes, which currently limits options for adaptive reuse of the landmark as condominiums or commercial space. The building remains empty today, used only occasionally for art exhibits.
Haltermann, Bryan M. From City to Countryside: A Guidebook to the Landmarks of Augusta, Georgia. Augusta: Lamar Press (Haltermann Partners, Inc.), 1997.
Lane, Mills. The Architecture of the Old South: Georgia. New York: The Beehive Press, 1986.
Nichols, Frederick Doveton. The Early Architecture of Georgia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1957.