The Beach Institute houses the offices of the King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation Inc., the Ulysses Davis Collection, and frequent exhibits.
Built in 1867 by the Freedmen’s Bureau and primarily funded by the American Missionary Association, named in honor of New Yorker Alfred E. Beach, Editor of Scientific American, who donated funds to purchase the site.
Initially 600 students enrolled. The school had 9 female teachers and a male principal. Most of these teachers were Caucasian. Tuition was $1 per month in 1873.
In 1874, The Beach Institute was turned over to the Savannah Board of Education and became a free public school for African American children.
In 1878, the school was damaged by fire, rendering it temporarily unusable. The American Missionary Association took this opportunity to resume control of the building and the educational program as they were intent on securing a higher grade of instruction than the Board of Education in Savannah thought it prudent to furnish.
In 1917 the Savannah Boys Club rented one small room in the basement of The Beach Institute as its weekly meeting place. The activities and fame of this club extended and expanded until it occupied the entire basement of the building and utilized every weekday evening with its educational endeavors on behalf of under-privileged African American boys.
The Beach Institute closed in 1919. Enrollment had significantly declined due to the opening of Savannah’s first African American public high school on Cuyler Street, as well as the prevailing popularity of the Georgia State Industrial College at Thunderbolt, which opened in 1891.