Filmmakers on a hunt for history in Morgan

Staff Written Featured, News

By Tia Lynn Ivey

Managing Editor 

To celebrate the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center’s 125th birthday, two local film producers are on a hunt for history, looking for old photographs to help tell the story of one of Morgan County’s oldest institutions. 

Patsy Harris and Jan Manos, who are producing 10 separate videos for the Museum Highlight series, are asking the public for help in gathering historic photos spanning the last 125 years of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center to use in the upcoming film. 

“We are looking for photographs to help tell the story of the Cultural Center’s buildings that have come and gone over the last 125 years,” said Harris and Manos in a joint press release. “Many of today’s Morgan County residents attended school when the Center’s building was the Madison Graded School, and some attended the high school before that building burned in 1947.”

Harris and Manos are hoping Morgan County’s historically-minded citizens will step up to share some of the photographs in their possession for the project.

“To celebrate the building’s 125th anniversary, the Center’s February Museum Highlights online video will focus on the history of the property, from the first house on the block built about 1850, to the Graded School and gym, to the dance studio in the little home economics building,” said Harris and Manos. “But to make it come alive, the video needs photos of the time.”

Manos and Harris are looking for specific photos to be featured in the next film.

For the Graded School Building, the filmmakers are looking for photos that show classes, activities in the auditorium, the lunchroom and library. From the Home Economics Building,  they are asking for pictures of Home Economic classes, especially shots of students sewing, cooking and dining, as well as Tommy Dial’s dance studio, church services, the lunchroom, and Ruth Wiliam’s and Barbara Engles’ Magic Land Kindergarten. Other photos being sought after are images of the gym building, school activities, the library, the playground before 1957, basketball, the fire escape tube and the old Foster House that sat behind the Graded School Building until 1910. 

Harris and Manos are hoping the film series will connect citizens to their local history as well as provide a “virtual activity” to be enjoyed from home as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage Georgia. 

“Jan and I were thrilled to be asked to produce this series of 10 monthly videos. It opens up the virtual doors of the Cultural Center so folks can visit from the safety of their own homes. And I must say, the two of us have done a tremendous amount of research into the subjects of each video. One viewer said they intrigued her so, that she had to visit the actual items on display. The Center offers so much to us all,” said Harris. 

“I knew when I started this project and agreed to do 10 episodes of Museum Highlights, that I wanted one of them to be on the museum itself – Madison Morgan Cultural Center,” explained Manos. “February of 2021 is the 125th year since students entered the school for the first time, so I saved this special highlight until now to tell the complete story of the property from 1850 until today.”

Manos noted that the film project requires much more work than acquiring historic photographs. 

“A lot has been forgotten about the history. I started with the historical records at the museum, then conducted oral interviews, researched old newspapers, and reached out to professionals in the city to find maps and land transactions,” explained Manos. “Patsy took the research and put it into film format, worked with our narrator, added music and at the end we collaborate and tweak the final product. We both have tremendously enjoyed working together on the project and hope everyone who watches these highlights will learn more about the wonderful museum collection at the Madison Morgan Cultural Center.”

Anyone with relevant photos for the Museum Highlight Series can contact Patsy Harris at (706) 461-3738 or Jan Manos at (706) 818-1059. 

To view their previous eight videos in the Museum Highlight Series visit:

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