Early Education in Smyrna

Researched and written by Mike Terry. Photographs of these buildings are on display at the Smyrna Historical Museum.

Prior to 1840, educating the small number of Smyrna children was done in several small one-room school houses. There was no federal of state mandated education requirements in Georgia, and each community hired their own teacher. All that changed when the W&A Rail Road came through Smyrna in 1844-45 and the area experienced significant growth.

In 1848 the people of Smyrna raised money to build a two story, wood-frame school building on donated land. They named the new school Smyrna Academy…AKA The Boy’s Academy. It had three teachers and handled grades 1 through 9. The Civil War forced the school to close in 1861, but it opened again after the war ended.

Smyrna would eventually incorporate and become an official city in 1872, but it would be 48 more years before Smyrna would build a modern school building. In 1920 with financial help from the government, the all brick, 2 story Smyrna School was constructed. Tragically the school was badly damaged by fire in 1923, but was rebuilt in 1924 and made EVEN better. Local newspapers said “It was the finest school in the county”. As the city grew, so did school enrollment and a new H.S. building was added in 1938. It was positioned next to the elementary school, and contained a much needed school cafeteria. Even though the Great Depression still had a grip on our state, the new high school building was constructed with help from the WPA, a work program created by the Roosevelt Administration.

That 1938 building ceased functioning as a high school when Campbell H.S. was opened in 1952, but the 1924 and 1938 school buildings continued to operate as an elementary/middle school until the early 1970s. The new Campbell H.S. drew students from Fitz Hugh Lee AND Smyrna, and that first year they had a total of 425 students. Today, there are 17 high schools in Cobb County, and the enrollment at Campbell alone is nearly 3,000. Osborne has an additional 2,000 students.

That original school complex was purchased by the Smyrna First Baptist Church in 1974, and the large main building was demolished in 1976. A Boy Scout Hut and an athletic field now occupies the site. The remaining 1938 high school building was recently demolished in early July of 2021.

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