Lewis High/ Ballard Normal (1888-1942) Part 2
The dedication of the new Ballard Normal School on Forest Avenue, in the Pleasant Hill Communty, was held on November 9, 1917. In August of 1916, J. H. B. Wilder won the construction contract amounting to $40,000. The faculty and students were allowed to remain at the old campus on the corner of New and Pine until completion of this campus. The school was a three story building with a two story teachers home. the 1920 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the layout of the property
Raymond G. Von Tobel and family, (pictured on the right), arrived in 1907 as a mathematics teacher, and by 1911 was promoted to principal before being transferred to North Dakota for one year. He returned to Macon and stayed for over 20 years as the principal. He gave the school a stability that was previously lacking. Former principals were constantly being replaced, most only stayed one or two years. He introduced the students to athletics and other student activities. Von Tobel oversaw several major changes including the relocation of the school in 1916. He also led the school and its students during the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic and never lost sight of his goal to “Deliver a well-rounded program of academic, vocational and moral instruction to their students” -- (Brown, Faithful, Firm and True: African American Education in the South (2002), page 106). The teachers were encouraged to participate in teacher organizations such as the Georgia Teacher’s and Education Association. The school sought various types of accreditation.
Mr. Von Tobel was killed in a car accident on July 9, 1935. The October 1935 memorial issue of the Ballardite student newspaper paid tribute to Von Tobel with this quote: “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of battle. The beauty of Israel is slain in thy high places." (Brown, 2002, page 119). In 1988, Dr. Titus Brown wrote an article for the Georgia Historical Quarterly entitled, "The New England Missionary and African-American Education in Macon: Raymond G. Von Tobel at the Ballard Normal School, 1908-1935." Twenty-two pages long, the article gives a summary of Mr. Raymond G. Von Tobel accomplishments at Ballard Normal. This led Dr. Brown to write the book Faithful, Firm and True: African American Education in the South.