In November of 2017, I wrote about the history of Providence Place, the old stone church at the corner of Glenridge Drive and Mount Vernon Highway. The First Baptist Church of Sandy Springs across the road has purchased the church, which was their home before the present building was built. They are working to restore the building and bring new purpose to the old church. A big part of the history of Providence is Annie Houze Cook Kindergarten.
Annie Houze Cook was born in 1883 to James Solon Houze and Martha Hembree Houze of Roswell. She attended Athens Normal School and then began teaching at Crossroads School at Mount Vernon Highway and Powers Ferry Road in 1910. She received $40 a month to teach at Crossroads and contributed $150 from her own money to buy new desks one year. During those days, the enrollment would vary greatly depending on whether children were needed to work on the family farm.
Beginning in 1923, Annie Houze Cook taught first grade at Hammond Elementary School in Sandy Springs and continued until Fulton County said she had to retire in 1948. When she retired, she immediately announced the opening of her kindergarten. Classes were held at what was then known as Providence Baptist Church. She believed kindergarten, which was not required at that time, was crucial to children’s success in elementary school.
In a 1946 interview with the Atlanta Constitution, she gave her advice on how to help children become readers, saying, “Reading to a child always helps him to read. I can spot the ones who have been read to. Give ‘em a book and they start reading it.”
Chris Curth emailed me to share his memories of the kindergarten along with his graduation day photograph. One of his favorite memories is playing in the huge pasture next to the church, which was later covered with trees and is now part of Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School.
Chris remembers the annual Christmas play that he was part of, playing one of the wise men and walking down the aisle of the church in costume singing “We Three Kings.” He has fond memories of Annie Houze Cook.
A graduation ceremony with caps and gowns was an annual tradition. The kindergarten class marched into the church to music. Chris participated in this ceremony and then went on to attend Hammond Elementary, as did his sisters.
Mrs. Cook taught many children at the kindergarten who were children of former students. Her legacy and the precious memories of the Annie Houze Kindergarten live on.
Other sources cited include: September 16, 1946, Atlanta Constitution, Sunday School Best Tutor for Readers. Images of America: Sandy Springs, by Kimberly M. Brigance and Morris V. Moore for Heritage Sandy Springs.