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Bethesda plans museum, visitor center
0222 Bethesda historic photo
A former class at Bethesda Academy stands outside one of the historic structures on the 600-acre campus in Savannah. - photo by Photo provided.

SAVANNAH — Bethesda Academy, a boys high school and middle school in Savannah, recently announced plans to develop a new museum and visitors center on its 600-acre campus at 9520 Ferguson Ave. The facility is expected to open to the public in January 2013.
The William H. Ford Museum and Visitor Center will be on the main floor of Burroughs Hall, which originally was built in 1870, and will feature 2,200 square feet of exhibition space as well as digital video stations and a gift shop. Bethesda currently is conducting fundraising efforts on behalf of the museum and visitors center, raising an additional $100,000 to complete the facility, which will celebrate the institution’s rich history and impressive legacy.
“Bethesda welcomes approximately 20,000 visitors on campus each year, and this new museum and visitor center will allow us to share the fascinating story of Bethesda through informative, state-of-the-art exhibits,” Bethesda Academy President David Tribble said. “This exciting new facility will celebrate the historical role Bethesda has played in transforming young men and will allow us to share that story with new students, guests and visitors.”
The museum also will honor the legacy of Rev. William H. Ford, who was the only Bethesda alum who also served as superintendent.
The William H. Ford Museum and Visitor Center will feature interactive exhibits, photographs, video, oral histories and artifacts that tell the story of Bethesda’s past, present and future. The main exhibit hall will offer insight into early Georgia history, chronicle the founding of Bethesda, detail early life at the orphanage and trace George Whitefield’s legacy.
“This museum has been strategically designed to make the Bethesda story engaging, entertaining and accessible to a wide range of audiences,” said Jody Marcil, owner of Jody Marcil Design Studio in St. Augustine, Fla., the company designing the exhibitions at Bethesda. “Bethesda played an important role in our nation’s history. We are honored to share Bethesda’s story.”
Originally founded in 1740 by George Whitefield and James Habersham as a home for orphans, Bethesda is the oldest child-care facility in America. For more than three centuries, Bethesda has served more than 10,000 boys.
Today, Bethesda Academy is a school that serves students in grades six through 12, features a wildlife management program, an on-site video production studio, an organic farming program and a nationally ranked chess team.
For information about Bethesda’s new museum and visitor center or to support the fundraising initiative, call Andrea Dove at 912-644-4376 or email

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