Looking back: S.P. Morton honored

Published 11:27 am Friday, March 13, 2015

by Clyde Parker

MARCH 13, 1965

A new Franklin elementary school was recently completed. It is located behind Hayden High School. Representing the School Board, Chairman J. E. Henry announced that they have decided to name the new school “S.P. Morton Elementary School” in honor of Mr. S.P. Morton, principal of Hayden High School since 1935.

While conferring the honor, Chairman Henry said, “Mr. Morton has served public education in Franklin for 30 years. His time with us has been marked with devotion and dedication. He truly inspires those under his guidance.”

“We are proud of Mr. Morton’s contributions to the Franklin community, and we are pleased to memorialize those contributions in a manner befitting his stature in education.”

Morton is a native of Caroline County, Virginia. He received his early training in the schools in that county. He graduated from Smallwood-Corey Institute, Claremont, Virginia.

He attended Virginia Union University in Richmond where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree. He received a Master of Science Degree from Virginia State College in Petersburg. He did further study at Boston College and Cornell.

In 1928, Morton began his work in education as a classroom teacher at Rappahannock Industrial Academy in Ozeana, Virginia. From there, after about a year and a half, he was appointed to the position of Principal of the Charlotte County Training School in Charlotte Court House, Virginia. In the fall of 1933, Morton returned to Rappahannock and stayed there until 1935 at which time he accepted the Principal position at Hayden High School.

Morton has been a strong advocate for the sports program at Hayden High School.

At various times over the years, Morton has served as instructor at Virginia State College and Norfolk State College.

Morton is a member of the Virginia Teachers Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Principals and Teachers Association of the Second District.

He is past president of the Second District of Virginia Teachers Association and a past president of the Virginia Principals Association.

He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the Kappa Phi Kappa Educational Leadership Fraternity, and the Franklin Star Lodge AF and AM, Prince Hall Affiliation.

He is a member of the Trustee Board of First Baptist Church in Franklin.


Houses needed

The Franklin Citizen’s Advisory Committee, a five-member group organized to assist in Franklin’s redevelopment program, recently issued an appeal for private investment in housing. Houses will be needed for those people displaced as a result of the “Berkley Project.”

The “Berkley Project” is the inaugural redevelopment effort of the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The Berkley neighborhood, situated between the General Vaughan Armory and the backside of Franklin High School, is targeted for demolition. One hundred and sixty families, living in sub-standard housing, will be displaced. Of this number, only 60 families have incomes high enough to buy or rent their own home. All other families, of necessity, will be forced to relocate into public housing.

The Citizens Advisory Committee is made up of James M. Piette, Roger I. Beale, Dr. W. P. Richardson, Dr. Henry L. Gardner and John D. Munford. Piette is Chairman of the group.

In a recent Tidewater News editorial, Publisher Hanes Byerly stated, “Of course, public housing, with all of its red tape and bureaucratic control, is coming. Many of the families in the blighted area cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, begin to pay for their own homes nor can they afford to pay for suitable rental property. Public housing is necessary.”

“Nevertheless, it is desirable both for the community and the people involved, to place as many families as possible into private housing. This is why the Citizen’s Advisory Committee has asked for private investment in either homes for resale or rental property.”

Harold Atkinson, Franklin City Manager and Secretary to the Committee, said that two Franklin realtors have already indicated interest. “Both have been to Richmond to check out FHA procedures and have explored other possibilities,” Atkinson said.

Redevelopment of the Berkley area, long awaited by the community, is now officially underway. That project, along with other areas within the City destined for redevelopment, ultimately, will transform the City of Franklin and greatly influence its future existence and stature.

Any and all redevelopment projects will be accomplished, hopefully, by partnership between government and private enterprise. Government will furnish public housing apartments for those families unable to afford private dwellings. Private enterprise will furnish rental homes and houses for individual ownership.

And, government will set standards and zoning for future residential, retail, and industrial development within the City. The more local and private investment we can get interested in redevelopment the less we rely on government. This always builds a stronger community.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net