Thomas University Buys Old Magnolia School Complex

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

Thomas University has come a long way since 1950 when it started with just a dozen students.

Now, more than 1,000 roam the 20-plus acre campus.

But the space just isn't enough, and TU's president Gary Bonvillian says it's time for the school to stretch its ever-growing legs:

"We've been working on a project for several years to acquire the former Magnolia School grounds, which is exactly 1 mile down the road from our existing main campus ... and today we've executed that purchase, and we'll begin almost immediately in developing that property for use."

The 36-acre Magnolia School complex has deep history: it was Thomasville's black high school during segregation, then an integrated middle school, and, most recently, it served as a primary care center for the city.

Now, it will serve higher education: TU says student housing, classrooms, and a new sports complex are in the works.

Robert Strecker, a senior says, "[The school is] going to have a bigger campus, hopefully have more students, building a new athletic facility and, [it]'ll have ... a field we keep ... up-to-date."

Linda Eason-Harris works in Thomasville and attended elementary school at the Magnolia Complex, and thinks the expansion is a good move:

"I really think it's a good idea that Thomas University is expanding. The university is really growing, and I really do believe they need some more room."

People in the area say they are happy to see the site being used by an organization that will give back to the community.

Bonvillian says he expects renovation to start on the Magnolia School complex by the end of this month, January 2011.

He says badly-needed office space on the new property will be cleaned up and ready for use very soon.

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