Margaret Booth School 4

Margaret Booth School

As sad as it is now, Sayer was a grand address in its day.  The imposing American Four-Square structure (obviously added to on the side and rear) served Margaret as home and school from 1914 until her death in 1953. It stood as tall in the education of girls in Montgomery, as did the lauded Barnes and Starke private schools did in the molding of boys. It is interesting to me that my wife had an uncle that attended Barnes, and that I (who lived 120 miles away) had an uncle that attended Starke. And I find it ironic that when the old Barnes School was moved three blocks up Court Street a decade or so back, it became the back-yard neighbor of the Booth School.

The six-foot tall Margaret Booth, born in 1880, never married, and instead dedicated her life to advancing the status of education for girls. For her efforts in that field she was elected to the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame at Judson. Margaret attended public school in Montgomery, then graduated from the lightly regarded Agnes Scott Institute near Boston. She made such high marks on her College Board exam that Agnes Scott was accorded college status. At age 20, Margaret was appointed Principal of the brand new Demopolis High School, and she is even credited with the founding of the Demopolis Public Library. At age 24 she started her college preparatory school for girls in Montgomery, and early on it was so successful that her graduates were accepted by all the acclaimed Eastern women’s colleges without their taking the College Board exam.  Each summer, Margaret escorted a group of her young charges on a tour of Europe, telling them “where to go, what to see”. She was on such an expedition when she suddenly fell ill and died in London in 1953. Thus the Booth era ended about the time I got here, but I knew about it, and I knew girls who attended. Margaret was indeed one of those remarkable characters that shaped Montgomery into what it is today.

-Charles Humphries

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