Dr. Ritchie's office demolished. What's GMC's plan for "The Carolyn?"
Dr. Ritchie's old optometry office, the small and non-descript brick building built in the 1960s, recently was demolished, and the property is in the process of being pancaked and flattened.
Georgia Military College purchased the property back in 2020 for $209,500, according to tax records. So, what's the college's plan for the property?
"That area most likely will be an outdoor plaza of some sort to accentuate the Center for Leadership," according to Jobie Shields, GMC's public affairs coordinator.
The "Center for Leadership" is GMC's working title for its new performing arts center. The centerpiece of the new 28,837-square-foot facility, which is mostly completed, will be an 820-seat theater, which will roughly double the capacity of the Goldstein Center for the Performing Arts, which currently serves as the centerpiece for the fine arts program around GMC. The New Day USA Center for Leadership is four stories tall, at its highest point, and one of the tallest buildings in Milledgeville. Plans for the new facility also include classroom space, a dance studio, as well as a large lobby that would double as an art studio, complete with "gallery quality lighting," the school previously stated. The new venue is slated to include state-of-the-art acoustics, rigging systems and an orchestra pit, Fine Arts Director Mark Weaver said during a previous interview.
"We researched everything to make sure that we have a space that meets the requirements for larger touring groups, similar to the ones you see at (The Grand Opera House) Macon," he added. "This would not only meet those requirements, but exceed them."
The phrases "military school" and "performing arts" may not seem synonymous with each other, but GMC Prep has won multiple state championships in GHSA Class A in recent years in both the One Act Play competition, as well as the Literary performance competition. Very few high schools in Georgia, if any, have won more fine arts state championships than GMC in recent times.
GMC previously bought Dr. Ritchie's old office, and it also bought "The Carolyn," which is the 100-plus-year-old apartment building next to Dr. Ritchie's office. GMC paid $320,000 for The Carolyn last spring. Even the most hardcore history buff would have difficulty making the argument that Dr. Ritchie's office was "historically significant." The Carolyn, on the other hand is a different story. According to the website vanishinggeorgia.com: "These Craftsman apartments were built between 1910-1915 by Julius A. Horne, who named them for his wife, Carolyn 'Carrie' Sherman Horne. They lived in one apartment and rented the other three. The location was chosen for its proximity to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, as the Hornes were Catholics. Both Mr. Horne and his son, J. Adrian Horne, served as mayors of Milledgeville."
The good news for local history buffs is that GMC has no plans to demolish The Carolyn building. In fact, the college recently performed renovations on the building, which wasn't in the greatest shape. GMC is now using part of The Carolyn building for office space, and its Global Online Leadership College has moved in.