Near Isle of Hope in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Placed On The
Of Historic Places
By The United States
Department Of The Interior
Erected 1973. (Marker Number 73000614.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education.
Location. 31° 57.532′ N, 81° 5.599′ W. Marker is near Isle of Hope, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker is on Old Montgomery Road, in the median. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Savannah GA 31406, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Brick Pillar (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pin Point Community (approx. 0.6 miles away); Site of Colonial Shipyard (approx. 1.4 miles away); Noble Jones’ “Wormslow” (approx. 1˝ miles away); Capture of the USS "Water Witch" (approx. 1.9 miles away); Vernonburg (approx. 2 miles away); Beaulieu Plantation (approx. 2 miles away); Isle of Hope (approx. 2.1 miles away).
The idea of establishing an orphanage in Georgia was suggested by Charles Wesley and James Edward Oglethorpe. Enthusiastically embraced by the Reverend George Whitefield, he labored toward that end after his arrival in Georgia in 1738.
Through his efforts substantial sums were raised and a grant of 500 acres obtained in 1739 from the Trustees of the Colony. Site of the Orphan House (far removed from "the wicked influence of the town") was selected by Whitefield's faithful co-worker, James Habersham, who wrote, "The boys and girls will be taught to labor for souls as well as for their daily bread."
March 25, 1740, Whitefield laid the first brick in the Orphan House to which he gave the name Bethesda,hoping it would ever prove what the word imported, "the House of Mercy".
November 3, 1740, 61 children took up residence at the "Great House", described by an English traveler of the period as a "square building of very large dimensions, the foundations of which are of brick, with chimneys of the same; the rest of the superstructure of wood".
Since then hundreds of young people have gone forth from Bethesda's sheltering arms to make their mark in the world, among them Governor John Milledge and General Lachlan McIntosh.
Highlights of it's History
The interest of George Whitefield in the institution he founded
Her plans to establish a college at Bethesda were thwarted by the American Revolution. During that struggle the Georgia House of Assembly appointed trustees to manage the property.
In 1788, under the patronage of the Countess of Huntingdon, Bethesda opened as a college. Following her death in 1791 the existing Board of Trustees was incorporated by Act of the Legislature and the State assumed control of the property.
During the next ten years Bethesda fell into decay. Revived in 1801, the school was closed 4 years later following a disastrous fire. In 1855 the Union Society acquired the property and recommenced the great work begun by the Reverend Whitefield.(Georgia Historical Commission)
National Register of Historic Places:
Bethesda Home for Boys *** (added 1973 - - #73000614)
Also known as Bethesda
♦ Historic Significance: Event
♦ Area of Significance: Education, Social History
♦ Period of Significance:
♦ Owner: Private
♦ Historic Function: Education
♦ Historic Sub-function: Educational Related Housing, School
♦ Current Function: Education
♦ Current Sub-function: Educational Related Housing, School
Also see . . .
1. Bethesda. New Georgia Encyclopedia website entry:
Bethesda, or "House of Mercy," was the name given to the orphanage founded near Savannah by the evangelist George Whitefield in 1740. Its significance rests partly with the close association it had with Whitefield but also on the pioneering role it played in the care of orphan children in Georgia. (Submitted on May 7, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
2. Bethesda Home for Boys. It was founded in 1740 as an orphanage by evangelist George Whitefield, in the 18th century on his 500 acre land grant about 10 miles south of Savannah, Georgia ... (Submitted on May 7, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 7, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 938 times since then and 73 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 7, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.