King-Tisdell Cottage Fdn Inc

A nonprofit organization

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King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation, Inc.

The King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation has been in existence since 1979.  The Foundation was established through the leadership of W.W. Law, civil rights leader, historian, and preservationist.  The Foundation is responsible for two historic buildings: The Beach Institute, (1867) and the King-Tisdell Cottage, (1896).  Both of these establishments represent turning points in the lives of African-Americans in Savannah, Georgia. In 2016, The Beach Institute received the Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities for exemplary cultural and educational contributions to the State of Georgia and in 2017 they celebrated 150 years.  

The Beach Institute was the first school built for emancipated African Americans in Savannah.  After the Civil War ended there was a great philanthropic thrust to support education for formerly enslaved people and free persons of color.  The Freedmen’s Bureau built the school and the American Missionary Association (AMA) administered the school.  The instruction was provided by members of the AMA and a few African American teachers. Construction of the three-story building was funded by a generous donation from Alfred Ely Beach, editor of “Scientific American” magazine.

In the early days, the AMA organized a Sunday School at the Beach Institute and later a church that became the existing First Congregational Church.  Throughout its history, The Beach Institute has enjoyed many educational iterations including serving as an elementary school, a trade school, the administrative offices for the local Board of Education,  and finally, Harris Reading Center.  In 1989, the Savannah College of Art and Design purchased the building from the Savannah Chatham County School Board and gave it to the King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation.   The Beach Institute today serves as an art museum and a center for cultural and educational programming.  It houses the nationally renowned Ulysses Davis Folk Art Collection. In 2010 a beautiful garden was installed and is maintained by volunteers.

For the past several years the Foundation has been the primary provider of traveling exhibits, ongoing permanent collection exhibits, lecture series, film series, educational programming to public school teachers, and youth workshops that expand knowledge about the African American experience in Georgia, the Low Country and beyond.

It has partnered with many businesses and cultural, civic, and faith-based organizations to present this programming to a cross-section of the city as well as tourists.

The King-Tisdell Cottage is a gingerbread cottage style restored Victorian-era house. It was relocated from 516 Ott Street to its current location of 514 Huntingdon Street in 1979 when Mr. Law led the effort to save it from being razed.  It was also a home that was owned, not rented, by an African American couple, Eugene and Sarah King, a rare occurrence during the 1920s.   The King-Tisdell Cottage was where the Foundation was started.  It was also the location of the City of Savannah’s first Black Heritage Festival. In 2014, the Cottage re-opened after being off-line for a few years.   It now houses interactive exhibits and tells the unique stories of the former owners, Eugene and Sarah King and later Sarah and Robert Tisdell; the efforts made by W.W. Law and many others to preserve the Cottage and neighborhood is told in a special W.W.Law Room; the story of slavery and emancipation in Savannah; and in general, a view of the entrepreneurial and progressive spirit of Savannah’s working/middle class.

The King-Tisdell Foundation continues to subscribe to the philosophy that our work adds immeasurably to Savannah’s social, economic, and intellectual well being.  It  is committed to protecting:


    • The legacy of African American history and culture in Savannah, Georgia

    • The legacy of The Ulysees Davis Folk Art Collection at the Beach Institute

    • The legacy of 19th-century buildings that are architecturally and historically significant

    • The legacy of support and collaboration that engenders multicultural, interracial and economically diverse sectors of the community

Organization Data


Organization name

King-Tisdell Cottage Fdn Inc

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Arts & Culture Education Community