Seney-Stovall Chapel and Lucy Cobb Institute
- 201 N. Milledge Ave., Athens, GA 30602
- (706) 542-2736
One of the gems along the S. Milledge Ave. historic district, the Lucy Cobb Institute building and its unusual octagonal chapel building are great successes in restoration and reuse.
The complex has been restored in a way that allows for its use by the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government in addition to university and community groups for plays, concerts, lectures, weddings, meetings, and other special events.
From the Historic Headlines newsletter of Historic Athens, March 31, 2023:
"The Lucy Cobb Institute was a prestigious all-girls school founded in 1858 in Athens, Georgia, by Thomas R.R. Cobb, a prominent Georgia lawmaker known best for his impact on Georgia state code and the pro-slavery positions of the early confederacy. The school was named after his daughter, Lucy Cobb, who died in her childhood from scarlet fever. In 1859, the school opened at its present location on 201 North Milledge Avenue, offering rigorous academic curriculum and a commitment to providing quality education for young women.
"Despite the challenges posed by the Civil War, the Lucy Cobb Institute thrived and even served as a hospital for Confederate soldiers. Many of its students and faculty members provided nursing care for wounded soldiers. The school had a profound impact on the education of young women in Georgia and beyond. Many of its graduates went on to achieve great success in their careers, including Mary Dorothy Lyndon, the first woman to receive a degree from the University of Georgia, and Eugenia Tucker Fitzgerald, a writer and activist who played a significant role in the women's suffrage movement. The second Dean of women was Ann Wallis Brumby, affectionately known to friends and family as “TeeWee” Brumby. She was the namesake of Brumby Hall, and she and her sister, Mary Harris (“Mayharris”) Brumby, were the last persons to reside in the Church-Waddel-Brumby House.
"However, the institute's full story is complicated. Pro-slavery beliefs were a key part of its curriculum, and Mildred Lewis Rutherford, an alumna of the school, led the institute from 1880 to 1895. Rutherford was known nationally for her advocacy of class hierarchy and what became known as the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy, promoting white supremacy in American society and educational practice.
"The Lucy Cobb Institute closed in 1931 due to the Great Depression, and the University of Georgia took over its campus, using the main building as a women's dormitory and later for storage. In 1991, the site became the headquarters of the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
"The Seney-Stovall Chapel was built in 1882 as the chapel for the Lucy Cobb Institute, a boarding school for girls that opened in 1859, and for community cultural events. The chapel was abandoned shortly after World War II, was transferred to the University of Georgia in 1953, and deteriorated until 1961 when the slow process of restoration was begun. Restoration of the Chapel, which has been referred to as the "crown jewel" of the Lucy Cobb Complex, was completed in 1997.
"The chapel is shown by appointment only. Please call to arrange an appointment. All visitors to the Seney-Stoval Chapel must sign in with the receptionist at the Lucy Cobb Building (adjacent to the chapel). Use the Milledge Ave entrance to Lucy Cobb; all other doors are locked for security reasons."
MEETING & EVENT PLANNERS:
The Spalding Theatre, which seats 240, and the Conference/Green Room, which seats 45, are rented to the public. No food or drink are allowed.
- Handicap Accessible: