Montpelier Institute

“Will you let other States breed your scholars?” This question was asked by Professor Stephen Elliott, Jr. of his students at South Carolina College in the 1830s. His students would remember the question as they would live to see their professor become a bishop, found a private school and fail and then go on to be one of the founding bishops of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. In the process, he would bankrupt his once wealthy family and leave a lasting legacy of learning.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott

At the time of his 1840 election as the first Bishop of Georgia, the Rev. Stephen Elliott, Jr. had served for five years as the Chair of Sacred Literature and the Evidences of Christianity at South Carolina College. His deep commitment to education, particularly Southern education for the Southern aristocracy, would remain an abiding commitment for the new bishop who wasted no time in founding a private school in the middle of his new diocese.

In 1841, immediately following his leading his first diocesan convention, Bishop Elliott traveled to Montpelier Springs to spend four days working on organizing a school and a church in conjunction with it. He left the Rev. Charles Fay as Rector of the church and school. That December, he reported that when he went back to Montpelier Springs to inspect the school and make arrangements for the winter term, “I found every thing in the very best condition, full of promise to the Church and to the State.” By the spring of 1842, he could say, “Our Schools have flourished at the Springs beyond our most sanguine expectation.”

Bishop Elliott adopted a plan for the school which he wrote had worked for many years on the island of Barbados. The Montpelier Institute, with both boys and girls schools on an 800-acre campus was to be a working farm staffed by enslaved Africans whose work would pay the bulk of the costs of the school. He saw additional advantage for the students in being on a farm writing, “A long residence, during years of boyhood, upon a well kept and well arranged farm, will impress upon the eye and upon the feelings a habit of order and neatness which will make most of them, afterwards, attentive to these things in their own domestic relations. They will also be trained in the best mode of performing their duties as the owners of slaves and the masters of human beings for whose souls they must give an account.”

The girls were taught in Lamar Hall, the boys were a mile distant in Chase Hall, named for Bishop Philander Chase, who was then Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. The faculty was recruited from England, with every effort being made as Elliott would say to assure that “whatever is taught, will be thoroughly taught.”

The schools were to be decidedly religious as well. Elliott said, “It is neither numbers, nor profit, nor popularity which we seek. Our desires is to give a finished education upon strictly religious principles, and everything else will be sacrificed to that object.”

By his address to convention in 1846, Bishop Elliott was living on the rounds of the school and reported that this had not interfered with his duties as Bishop of Georgia for he had accomplished more in Bishop’s visits in the previous year than in the years before moving to the Institute. By that time, more than 80 students were enrolled in the two schools which formed the Montpelier Institute.

But there were problems that would surface. The rapid expansion of the school including the completion of more buildings created debt. The Institute was never funded by the Diocese and Elliott had used his own personal property as a guarantee. In 1850, the school debts had mounted to a degree that Bishop Elliott lost everything he owned down to his last dollar to satisfy the school’s creditors. He sold all of his land and his considerable holdings in enslaved persons. He was left with nothing. In 1851, the Diocese raised a salary for him of $2,500, which is $65,170 in 2010 dollars. This was a step down for the wealthy bishop and his family. The school was sold at Sherrif’s sale for $13,000 to make up the rest of the indebtedness. The school was bought by J.S. Fay and continued as a school under its Board of Trustees. The Institute would stay open into the 1870s. But in December 1852 Bishop Elliott, broke save for his salary as bishop, moved back to Savannah to take up duties as Rector of Christ Church in addition to serving as Bishop. He would continue to make Episcopal visits to the school, but would no longer be directly involved in its affairs. Having been convinced that while good came through religious instruction for slaves, the slave system itself was not a positive good and would one day disappear, Bishop Elliott would never again own slaves after selling off his property to satisfy school debts.

Elliott’s lasting legacy would come both in the Diocese he led and in his working to found the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. Together with Bishop Leonidas Polk of Louisiana and Bishop J.H. Otey of Tennessee, he was a founder of the University. Only the cornerstone was laid by the time of the Civil War and even this did not wholly survive the war, the 6-ton stone was blown up by Union soldiers. Elliott was the only one of the original founders to survive and it was his good friend Bishop Charles Quintard, the second Bishop of Tennessee, who would take that original vision forward to refound the University.

In a sermon for the Diocese of Georgia’s Centennial Celebration in 1923 Bishop F.F. Reese said of the schools, ““I can only refer to the great Bishop’s heroic effort to maintain a Church school for girls at Montpelier, near Macon. It had encouraging success at first. It did a great work for the Church. I have known personally some of the faithful women who were educated there in secular knowledge, Christian piety and Church loyalty. To its success Bishop Elliott contributed much of his time and labor, most of his means, his great personality and his loving zeal. But in the terms of worldly success it finally failed. Just another one, of which there have been so many in our Church”

The last building standing a Montpelier Institute burned to the ground in December 1896. The December 26, 1896 Macon Telegraph reported, “The old college was build before the war, and was founded by Bishop Elliott. For many years it was a famous college and flourished. Many of the leading men of the state have attended school there, but since 1878 the school has been discontinued.” It was on the Cumberland Plateau that Bishop Elliott’s ideals of a liberal arts education on Southern soil took root and remains.

Historical Marker at Montpelier


Note: What follows are large quotations from some of the original sources used in writing the article above. All of these appear in full at this website and you may follow the links below to the full texts.

Bishop’s Address of 1842
“Immediately after the adjournment of our last Convention, I left Macon for the Montpelier Springs, with the double purpose of organizing our Schools at that place and a Church in connexion with them. I remained four days with our friends at that point, examining the property of the Institute and arranging the details of its management; and on the fourth Sunday after Easter, 1841, I confirmed in the temporary Chapel of the Springs, seventeen persons, thirteen of whom were slaves. After Morning Service a Church was organized, under the title of St. Luke’s Church, Montpelier Springs, Monroe, Co., Ga., by the election of Wardens and a Vestry. The Rev. Charles Fay, Rector of the Schools, will officiate regularly at this point.”

“From the 30th October, the period at which I returned to Savannah, until the 3d December, I continued my ministerial duties in the united Parishes of Christ Church and St. John’s, and on the 3d December, proceeded to Montpelier Springs to attend the Semi-Annual Examination of our Schools. Remained at the Springs until the 9th, inspecting the Schools and making arrangements for the winter term. I found every thing in the very best condition, full of promise to the Church and to the State.”

“On the 27th April, I proceeded to the Montpelier Springs and spent four days in examining the Schools and visiting the Church. On the fifth Sunday after Easter, I confirmed in the temporary chapel, four persons, two of them pupils of the school, and one a slave. In the afternoon, I administered the communion to a large body of communicants, white and colored. I also baptized a colored infant.

Our Schools have flourished at the Springs beyond our most sanguine expectation. In spite of the strict Episcopal principles upon which we arranged the enterprise—in spite of the numerous schools which are scattered over the State—in spite of the prejudices which were excited and fostered against us by designing and interested parties—in spite of the pecuniary embarrassment of the times, which has compelled every body to husband their resources to the uttermost, the excellence of the instruction and the devoted religious spirit which breathes around the Institute, have worked our Schools silently and surely into the favour of christian parents, and have made them anxious, of whatever denomination, to secure their advantages to their children. We lack by twelve, should all return who were attached to the Schools the last term, of our full complement.

It seems strange, that, among all the other plans which have been adopted in the slave-holding States for the promotion of education, the one, upon which turns the success of our Institute, should never before have engaged the public attention, especially when something of the same kind has been successfully carried on, for many years, in the Island of Barbadoes. Our plan—one struck out very much by the circumstances of the case—is to make a stock farm cultivated by a slave force owned by the Institute, pay all expenses of the Schools except the salaries of the Instructors. By throwing only this burden upon the tuition money, we are enabled, should the plan continue to work as well as it has hitherto done, to furnish the best education, together with all such accomplishments as christian parents should desire for their children, at a cost far below the usual charges, at the same time that we improve the property and enlarge the schools. Working at disadvantage the past year upon this plan—subjected to large expense in the improvement of the Institute, with many of our scholars coming in late in the year, we have been enabled, through the blessing of God and the admirable management of our Superintendent, to maintain the Institute upon the most liberal footing, and to say at the end of one year’s experience, that we owe no man any thing but love.

Another striking advantage of this plan is its expansiveness. It can be enlarged upon the same principles of arrangement to any extent, and twenty schools may be supported as easily as one: at the same time that the capital required to be invested in land and negroes for their support, will diminish in proportion as the schools increase. Our present investment sustains one school—double the farm and the number of labourers and we can make it sustain four schools—double that again and it shall sustain, not eight, but twelve schools—and this arises from the greater productiveness derived from a division of labour and the ability to concentrate a large force at any given moment upon any given point. My design is, with this result in view, to increase, with any money that may come into our hands, the landed and slave property of the Institute, until they shall be sufficient to supply any number of schools that we may need with every thing necessary for their comfortable support and maintenance. It will remain with the wealthy citizens of Georgia, and especially of the Episcopal Church, to determine whether this plan shall be developed slowly or rapidly, for not a step shall we take forward upon credit or upon hope. We are free from debt at this moment, and intend, by God’s blessing, to remain so. Very much of our usefulness will depend upon our independence of popular caprice: for the principles of education, like those of religion, have been long since settled upon their only sound basis, and any thing new in the one is just as likely to be false as any thing new in the other. Strict discipline, after the fashion of the Proverbs, religious training upon the system of the Church, thorough instruction along the old thorny road of hard study and minute accuracy; these, in which there is nothing new, I consider necessary to any good result, and these can only be maintained now-a-days, I regret to say it, by a perfect independence of parental whim—by an ability to say to any dissentient “the removal of your child is your loss and not ours.” Any increase in the number, &c. of schools, will not interfere with the present system of management. Instead of enlarging one building and accumulating numbers of children together, my intention is to multiply buildings, at suitable distances from each other, each constituting a separate family under distinct management of its own, and connected together only by some general government under my personal control. I pledge myself, as these schools increase, that they shall be furnished with the best teachers that can be procured from Europe or America, and it will remain with the citizens of Georgia to determine whether they will educate their children at their own doors, at a diminished expense as compared with a northern education, and upon religious principles, or whether they will still continue to drain the State of its resources and subject their children to the temptations necessarily incident to a residence remote from parental influence, and to the dangers arising from a change of constitution, by a long absence from the climate of the South at the most critical period of life.

Another part of my plan is to combine with the education and accomplishments of these schools some instruction, during leisure moments, in rural economy. Not that the boys will be required to labour at all: but if the farm be well cultivated and skillfully arranged, they may be taught many lessons of management and economy, to be turned to good account in after life. And whether much be gained or not in this particular, we are so imitative, that we will carry away from our early associations, feelings and habits that it will be difficult afterwards to get rid of. A long residence, during years of boyhood, upon a well kept and well arranged farm, will impress upon the eye and upon the feelings a habit of order and neatness which will make most of them, afterwards, attentive to these things in their own domestic relations. They will also be trained in the best mode of performing their duties as the owners of slaves and the masters of human beings for whose souls they must give an account.”

Bishop’s Address of 1843
“On Monday I made my semi-annual visit to the Montpelier Institute and spent the week in examining the two departments. I was highly gratified at the condition of the Institute and was pleased not only to note a decided improvement in moral feeling, but a deep religious impression pervading the schools. This was the result of Scriptural study, of private prayer, of pastoral instruction. It eventuated in the baptism of four of the pupils of the Institute and in the Confirmation of four. There were two others who desired Confirmation, but as they were not the children of Episcopalians, and had not the written consent of their parents, I declined the administration of the rite.

Since my last address to the Convention, very great improvements have been made at the Institute. The building originally purchased (Lamar Hall) has been rendered much more comfortable. A very handsome and spacious school-room with chamber and private parlour for one of the teachers, and with rooms for ten pupils, has been finished and is in use. A mile distant from Lamar Hall, a boys’ school has been built, having accommodations for fifty boys, with school-rooms, music-room, &c., and suites of apartments for the Rector and his family, and the various officers of the school. This building has been occupied since January last, and has been named after our Presiding Bishop, the venerable Bishop of Illinois. Its rapid completion reflects great credit upon Mr. S.H. Fay’s taste and energy. The improvements at Lamar Hall, the new school house attached to the female department, and the building of Chace Hall, have called for an expenditure of eight thousand five hundred dollars.

Besides bearing its own expenses, the Institute has paid the whole of this amount with the exception of about twenty-five hundred dollars, which will be met by the tuition money accruing in June and January next. We ask nothing of the Church but its children. Fill our schools, and we shall have a clear income of seven thousand dollars over and above all expenses, which will be faithfully disbursed in rendering the Institute still more worthy of the Church’s patronage. Nothing will prevent us, the blessing of God continuing to rest upon it, from making it the very first school in the United States, but the withholding of your children. One hundred pupils, fifty girls and fifty boys, are all we need to put it upon this footing, and already have we nearly seventy. This point once gained, we should present the singular spectacle of a school unsurpassed in its means of education of every sort, with a nett income of seven thousand dollars, and yet furnishing that education, including French, Italian, Music, Drawing, with board and most comfortable lodging, for two hundred and fifty dollars per annum, not more than one half of the cost of a northern education of like quality.

Since the publication of the Card setting forth the arrangements of the school, I have received a letter from my friend, Mr. Tebbs of London, who has kindly procured many of my teachers for me, announcing the engagement of Mr. George M. Messiter, B.A., of Wadham College, Oxford, as Classical and Mathematical Usher of the boy’s school. He has very high testimonials of character and scholarship from the late Dr. Arnold of Rugby, and the Tutors of the University. His services, together with those of Mr. and Mrs. Fay and of Mr. Berner, (a graduate of Leipsic,) give us ample assurance that whatever is taught, will be thoroughly taught.

And here, at the risk of being tedious, let me say a word to all those who may entrust their children to our care. My injunctions to the teachers are to educate thoroughly, and never to hesitate to put the oldest boy or girl back to the rudiments of learning, should they have been neglected. No very rapid improvement therefore must be looked for, except in character—that, we strive to improve at once—and faith must be had in the wisdom and judgment of teachers as experienced and devoted as those at the Institute. In many instances a very large part of the first term has been spent in teaching young people, who came from other schools where they were studying Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, to read, write and spell. We do not undertake to cram children—our endeavour is to train them—to give them a thorough education, combined with such accomplishments as the pupil will receive. Our plan is slow, but sure, and must ultimately find its reward in the hearts of parents.”

Bishop’s Address of 1844
“On the 22nd April I commenced the examination of the schools at Montpelier and continued there until Saturday the 27th. They were very satisfactory and well calculated to increase confidence in the system pursued there.

The prosperity of these schools calls for devout thankfulness on our part, to Almighty God. We have had during the past year, an average of eighty children under our charge, and had not our limit of fifty pupils to each school been strictly adhered to, we might have received, such has been the constant application for places in the girls school, fifty more. But we shall not depart from the determination with which we set out, never to receive in one school more than fifty scholars; for we believe it to be the only method of uniting the family system with that of the public school.

It is neither numbers, nor profit, nor popularity which we seek. Our desires is to give a finished education upon strictly religious principles, and everything else will be sacrificed to that object. But it becomes under existing circumstances, a question well deserving the consideration of the Church, whether we should not be enabled to put another school for girls into operation.

This will require, according to the calculations of Mr. Fay, for building, furniture and equipment of every kind, the sum of ten thousand dollars. An outfit like this would put us into a condition for receiving at once fifty girls more, upon the same plan of education with those already under our care. The endowment of three scholarships at $3000 each would effect the object; for which endowment paid in cash, the donor would be entitled to the education of a child at the school—so long as it endures, free of cost, its clothing excepted. If we cannot carry out the project in this way, we shall not attempt it in any other, for we are determined, by God’s grace, not to embarrass ourselves with debt, nor to ask assistance from any quarter, where we do not make a suitable return. Since my connexion with the Diocese, whatever has been done in the way of Church building and debt paying, has been done by ourselves, with one trifling exception.”

Bishop’s Address of 1846
“The early part of June was spent in organizing our school at Montpelier, which I am happy to say has prospered exceedingly during the past year and is at this moment, in point of efficiency, discipline and instruction beyond what it has ever been before. It needs nothing but the steady support of the Church to make it most useful to the Diocese and the State. Its corps of teachers is the best which I have been able to procure either in this country or in Europe, no pains and no expense having been spared for that purpose. Its apparatus for Philosophical and Artistical instruction has been purchased from the best mechanicians and artists of London and almost every day is adding something to the facilities for improvement offered to the pupils. The place has been very much beautified within the year and we are now engaged in finishing a fourth building, which will add very much to the convenience of the Institute. These things we have been enabled to effect, through the excellent management of the Rev. Mr. Johnson, out of the ordinary income of the school, besides paying a portion of the debt which was found attached to the institute at its change of officers. The remainder of that debt we can easily discharge out of the ordinary income of the school, if the Lord continues to bless us with the light of his countenance and to turn the hearts of his people towards us.

There is one object, however, connected with the Institute, which I conceive to be peculiarly the work of the Churches and which I am bold, in its behalf, to ask of them, as although a distinct church school, it has never received from the Church a dollar. I allude to a Chapel which is now almost all that is wanting to make our establishment very complete. Hitherto we have worshipped in a very common and open house, from which we are driven into our rooms alike by the heats of summer and the colds of winter. This has continued long enough and it behoves the Church, in a spirit of liberality, to give to her children whoare training there one day to become mothers in Israel, a place of worship in which they may use the services of their Church in their beauty and perfectness.

It is mortifying when asked for the Chapel of the Institute, to be obliged to point to the meanest of our buildings as that in which God is worshipped. I trust that the Rectors of Churches and the Laymen present in this Convention will pledge themselves before we separate, for such a sum as will authorise us immediately to undertake the erection of a neat yet commodious edifice for the worship of God.

As I have not found that my residence at Montpelier has interfered at all with my Episcopal duties, having performed, during the past year, including three visits to Florida, more service than ever in one year before, and having travelled near six thousand miles, I have determined to continue my residence at the Institute for the present and carry out, so far as I may be permitted to do so, the designs of its liberal founder and such other plans as may open before us as we proceed with its improvements. Its central position affords me great facilities for movement in any direction at a moment’s warning and our strong corps of teachers enables me to devolve my personal duties, without difficulty, upon very competent substitutes during my absences. I do not intend these remarks, however, to be construed into a pledge that I must remain there always, as the principle of action which I have laid down is to keep myself so untrammelled as to be able, at any moment, to assume that position which may, for the time being, be most for the benefit of the Church. No other position appears to me to meet the office and duty of a Bishop.”

Bishop’s Address of 1848
“Upon my return to Montpelier in November, I had again the pleasure of finding an interesting state of religious feeling among the pupils of the School, which terminated in the confirmation of eight of the pupils and one of the teachers. Our School has continued, through the Ecclesiastical year, to be always as full of pupils as we could desire, and with the increase of public favor and patronage. I regret to say that no interest has been taken by the Church generally in our request for a Chapel, and I shall have to ask of the Rectors of the churches to give me a collection in each of their Churches for this purpose during my visitation of the current year.”

Bishop’s Address of 1851
“In consequence of the very heavy debt and claims left upon the Montpelier Institute and the unavoidable accumulations upon that debt and those claims, the affairs of the Institute were brought to a close during the autumn of the last year, and the whole property was sold at sheriff’s sale, and purchased by Mr. Jos. Story Fay of Savannah, for $13,000. Upon the occurrence of this sale, I summoned the Board of Trustees of the Institute and laid before them a statement at large of the conduct of the Institute from the beginning of its indebtedness at various periods, of the amount necessary for its redemption, of its capacity for self support, and left it with them to decide the questions of its repurchase and future management. They determined immediately and with great unanimity that it should be repurchased and carried on, and immediately proceeded to make their resolutions effective. Through the liberality of the Churches in Savannah, Columbus and Macon, the amount of money required for its repurchase was immediately made up, Mr. Fay having consented to take for the property, the amount paid at sheriff’s sale and liberally throwing an as a donation from himself towards its repurchase, the interest which had subsequently accrued, amounting to some four to five hundred dollars. This valuable property is now secured to the Church and will continue to dispense its blessings to the Diocese. I trust that the members of the Church will feel that it is their duty to give it the countenance and support which such an Institution always requires, and I can assure them that nothing shall be left undone, on my part, to make it a school fit for the education of the children of refined and Christian parents.”

Journal of 1851 (On file at the Diocese and not yet online)
“Whereas, the Right Rev. Bishop of the Diocese has, in his annual address to this Convention, communicated the intelligence that the Montpelier property has been repurchased and the school reorganized and continued; and whereas, it is fit and proper that this communication should meet with some response from this body. Therefore be it resolved, That the information in regard to Montpelier Institute, conveyed to us by the Bishop of the Diocese in his annual address, is received by this Convention with feelings of deep interest and thankfulness.

Resolved, That in the opinion of this Convention, Montpelier Institute is an important and efficient ancillary in planting and sustaining of the Church in Georgia, and as such should be liberally and constantly sustained; and we therefore, cordially recommend and commit the school to the patronage and fostering care of all friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this State.

Resolved, As the unanimous sense of this Convention, that the Right Rev. the Bishop of this Diocese, in the great sacrifices he has made and in the toil and privations he has endured in sustaining Montpelier Institute, has conferred, especially on this Diocese, a great debt and obligation, which can only increase as in after years the seed he has so faithfully sown and cultivated shall bring forth fruit, and for which good works, we trust his reward awaiteth him.

Resolved, That to perpetuate our regard and gratitude for the Bishop of Georgia in this behalf, these resolutions be entered on the minutes of this Convention and make part of the records of the Church.

It was Resolved, That a Committee of five Laymen be appointed to revise the assessments of the Parishes for the Bishop’s salary.

The chair appointed Messrs. Whittle, Griffin, Nightingale, Gairdner and Yonge.

After a short absence the Committee presented the following report, which was adopted:

The Committee to whom was referred the resolution for revising the assessment of the Parishes for the Bishop’s salary, beg leave to report:–That they recommend that the Bishop’s salary be fixed at $2,500 per annum.” [note this 1851 salary is approximately $65,170 in 2010 dollars]

“It was in the earlier days of his Episcopal administration that he sacrificed his private fortune, and reduced himself to poverty and want, in his uncalculating efforts to establish an eminent school for female education at Montpelier, in the centre of his Diocese. No man had a higher estimate of the blessings of a healthy and thorough education. His zeal in this work rose to enthusiasm.

He therefore established this school at Montpelier, for the instruction of the young women of his Diocese in that learning and those accomplishments which, according to his conception of her “character and duties, a Christian woman, whose station in life permitted it, ought to know and acquire. Large sums had to be expended in the erection of suitable buildings and the necessary outfit of the Institution. It was his ardent wish that every thing should be thoroughly done. When the funds at his disposal were exhausted, he unhesitatingly pledged his private property and credit for the completion of the undertaking. His obligations were all faithfully met, and the debts he incurred were all paid. But it left him without a dollar ; and he had scarcely the means of providing the daily bread of his family. He had been accustomed from early youth to the refinement, independence and dignity of an ample fortune. He had never known what it was to owe what he could not punctually pay. The cares, anxieties and heavy burdens therefore of this period of his life were keenly felt, and his spirit was deeply wounded. But he met them all with the firmness, patience, gentleness, and humility of one who had counted the cost of his holy service. Up to this time he had received but a comparatively small salary as Bishop, and this had been chiefly expended for Church objects and for charitable purposes. The people of his Diocese now came forward affectionately and generously to his aid, and provided an adequate income for his support. It was well done, and was gratefully received.”

“Sermons by The Right Reverend Stephen Elliott, D.D., Late Bishop of Georgia with a Memoir by Thomas M. Hanckel, Esq.” (New York: Pott and Amery, 1867).

Centennial Sermon
“I can only refer to the great Bishop’s heroic effort to maintain a Church school for girls at Montpelier, near Macon. It had encouraging success at first. It did a great work for the Church. I have known personally some of the faithful women who were educated there in secular knowledge, Chris­tian piety and Church loyalty. To its success Bishop Elliott contributed much of his time and labor, most of his means, his great personality and his loving zeal.

“But in the terms of worldly success it finally failed. Just another one, of which there have been so many in our Church.”




There Was No Insurance and the Loss to Mr. Hall, Its Owner, Will Be $5,000 Origin of the Fire is a Mystery.

The old college building at Montpelier Springs, about fourteen miles from Macon, was burned to the ground Thursday morning at 3 o’clock.

The building belonged to Mr. J. W. Hart, and was uninsured. Its value was about $5,000, although it cost a great deal more to erect it. It container twenty-five rooms and was two stories high, of old fashioned architecture.

The origin of the fire is unknown, but the building was in flames before the negro who lived in two rooms of the house discovered it. There was no means of putting out the fire, and the few people who saw it were compelled to stand by and see it burn without being able to render assistance.

The old college was build before the war, and was founded by Bishop Elliott. For many years it was a famous college and flourished. Many of the leading men of the state have attended school there, but since 1878 the school has been discontinued. In 1880 Mr. J. W. Hart bought the property and 5,000 acres of land.

Everybody who had visited Montpelier Springs remembers the old building, and the magnificent oak end hickory trees around it. Nearly all of these trees were killed by the fire.

The Macon Telegraph, Macon, GA 26 Dec 1897