Lucy Cobb Institute

Coordinates: 33°57′22″N 83°23′23″W / 33.95611°N 83.38972°W / 33.95611; -83.38972
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Lucy Cobb Institute
200 Block, North Milledge Avenue

United States
FounderThomas R.R. Cobb
Lucy Cobb Institute Campus
Lucy Cobb Institute is located in Georgia
Lucy Cobb Institute
Lucy Cobb Institute is located in the United States
Lucy Cobb Institute
Location200 N. Milledge Ave., University of Georgia campus, Athens, Georgia
Coordinates33°57′22″N 83°23′23″W / 33.95611°N 83.38972°W / 33.95611; -83.38972
ArchitectW.W. Thomas
Architectural styleEarly Republic, Octagon Mode, Regency
NRHP reference No.72000377 [1]
Added to NRHPMarch 16, 1972
Seney–Stovall Chapel

The Lucy Cobb Institute was a girls' school on Milledge Avenue in Athens, Georgia, United States. It was founded by Thomas R.R. Cobb, and named in honor of his daughter, who had died of scarlet fever[2] at age 14,[3] shortly before construction was completed and doors opened;[4] it was incorporated in 1859.[5] The cornerstone for the Seney-Stovall Chapel was laid in May 1882,[6] and the octagonal building was dedicated in 1885.[7] The school closed in 1931.

The campus of the Lucy Cobb Institute was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972. Today, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government of the University of Georgia is housed in the former Lucy Cobb Institute.



In 1854, a piece called "The Education of Our Girls" ran in a local paper, the Athens Watchman.[8] The letter was written by Laura Cobb (Mrs. Williams) Rutherford,[9] who was "writing from a ladylike modesty" about the poor state of education for women in the South.[10] It was signed "Mother" and argued, "girls have the same intellectual constitution as men and have the same right as men to intellectual cultural development".[7] One of the letter's readers was Mrs. Rutherford's brother, Thomas R.R. Cobb, the father of several daughters.[7] Cobb, a lawyer,[10][11] was completely unaware of the author's identity[8] and after reading the editorial began raising funds for a girls' school.[7]

School opens[edit]

The trustees purchased eight acres of land on what is now known as Milledge Avenue.[11] When the school opened on January 10, 1859, its first principal was R. M. Wright.[8][11] (It was in April of this same year the Watkinsville Road acquired its present name of Milledge Avenue.)[12] The school was later headed by Madame Sosnowski (who organized the Home School after leaving the Lucy Cobb Institute).[8]

Mildred Lewis Rutherford, or "Miss Millie", a graduate herself of Lucy Cobb Institute,[13] took over leadership of the school in 1880. The Georgia Writers' Project, in a 1940 publication on the state published in the American Guide Series, characterized her thusly:

'Miss Millie,' always a champion of southern traditions, was a woman of powerful personality, commanding presence, and fearlessly outspoken opinions; she was known widely for the speeches she delivered in hoop skirts.[10]

Seney-Stovall Chapel[edit]

It was Miss Millie who decided the girls needed a chapel and had them write seeking funding for one. In 1881, Nellie Stovall wrote "a beautiful and girlish letter"[14] to George I. Seney, who responded with the funding for the $10,000 structure, an octagonal red brick building called the Seney-Stovall Chapel.[4][6] It was designed by a local architect William Winstead Thomas.[15]

When Miss Millie stepped down from the role of principal in 1895, she was replaced at the school's helm by her sister, Mrs. M.A. Lipscomb.[8] Rutherford and Lipscomb were nieces of T.R.R. Cobb.[14]

In 1986, R.E.M. recorded two songs in the chapel for the documentary Athens, GA: Inside/Out.

The end[edit]

Although the institute "became a well-known girls' preparatory school",[2] "praised throughout the South for its emphasis on gentle manners and old-fashioned accomplishments",[10] it "did not survive the depression",[2] and closed its doors in 1931.[6] At that point, the University of Georgia took over its campus, and used the main building as a women's dormitory and eventually storage.[2]

A restoration effort to save the complex was completed in 1997 with the renovation of Seney-Stovall Chapel.[16] The former Lucy Cobb Institute became the home of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.[6][16]

Notable alumnae[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Boney, F.N. (1989). A Walking Tour of the University of Georgia. University of Georgia Press. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-8203-1081-6. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  3. ^ Adams, Herbert Baxter (1889). "Miscalleneous Institutions". Education in Georgia. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. pp. 110–12.
  4. ^ a b Jones, Charles Edgeworth (1889). Herbert Baxter Adams (ed.). Education in Georgia. Contributions to American educational history. Vol. 5. pp. 110–112.
  5. ^ Georgia (1860). "Act to incorporate the Lucy Cobb Institute for the education of ladies in the town of Athens". Acts Passed by the General Assembly of Georgia. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Seney-Stovall Chapel History". Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Marsh, Kenneth Frederick; Marsh, Blanche (1979). Athens: Georgia's Columned City. Atlanta: Cherokee Publishing Company. pp. 58–59. ISBN 0-87797-048-3.
  8. ^ a b c d e Knight, Lucian Lamar (1913). Georgia's Landmarks Memorials and Legends: Landmarks and memorials. Vol. 1. Atlanta: Printed for the author by The Byrd Printing Company, State Printers. pp. 437–438. OCLC 1333051. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  9. ^ Case, Sarah (2009). "Mildred Lewis Rutherford (1851-1928) The redefinition of New South White Womanhood". In Ann Short Chirhart & Betty Wood (ed.). Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. pp. 272–296. ISBN 978-0-8203-3900-9.
  10. ^ a b c d Georgia Writers' Project (1940). Georgia: a Guide to Its Towns and Countryside. University of Georgia Press. p. 155. ISBN 9781603540100. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  11. ^ a b c McCash, William B. (2004). Thomas R.R. Cobb (1823–1862): The Making of a Southern Nationalist. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. pp. 101–106. ISBN 0-86554-858-7. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
  12. ^ Hynds, Ernest (1974). Antebellum Athens and Clarke County Georgia. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 48. ISBN 0-8203-0341-0.
  13. ^ Rutherford, Mildred Lewis (2000) [1923]. "Life Sketch of Miss Mildred Rutherford". In Unknown (ed.). History of Athens & Clarke County, Georgia. Athens, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina: H.J. Rowe (original), Southern Historical Press, Inc. (reprint with new material). pp. 105–107. ISBN 0-89308-412-3.
  14. ^ a b Blandin, Isabella Margaret Elizabeth (1909). History of Higher Education of Women in the South Prior to 1860. New York and Washington: The Neale Publishing Company. pp. 149–152. Retrieved February 12, 2011. seney-stovall chapel.
  15. ^ Thomas, Frances Taliaferro; Koch, Mary Levin (2009). A Portrait of Historic Athens and Clarke County, Second edition. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-1356-6.
  16. ^ a b Boney, F.N.; Adams, Michael (2000). A pictorial history of the University of Georgia. University of Georgia Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780820321981. Retrieved February 12, 2011.

External links[edit]