Boys will have a home to grow up in, not an institution
Mike Raney, CEO of Glenn Springs Academy, formerly the Spartanburg Boys’ Home, remembers standing on the densely wooded hillside behind campus a little over a year ago with a picture in his mind.
The image: Three new log cabins that would provide suitable housing for the 32 abused or abandoned boys who call the academy home.
“I remember looking out and thinking this would be the perfect setting,” Raney said. “The land wasn’t being used, and it was a tremendous opportunity for the kids and for what we’re trying to do here.”
After some careful planning, Raney and other officials moved forward with the project, transforming the property, which was once part of the 19th-century Glenn Springs resort, into an outdoors refuge for troubled youths.
Thursday, the academy opened the doors to its three new cabins, built by Blue Ridge Log Cabins of Campobello.
“It’s a relief in a lot of ways that we’re finally here,” Raney said. “This will provide (the boys) with a stable, nurturing place to grow up. It’s the difference between them growing up in an institution and growing up in a home.”
The cabins, 3,500 square feet for the two larger cabins and 2,500 square feet for the smallest, will initially house 16 boys and the academy’s new infirmary. Eventually, 24 boys will call the cabins home.
The remaining boys will continue to reside in a dormitory where living space has become tight in recent months.
“They’re packed in down there,” said Ron Colvin, president-elect for Glenn Springs Academy. “We’re really looking forward to what this could do for our boys.”
Blue Ridge Log Cabins donated the first cabin, which it delivered to the site on four flatbed trailers last December.
“We all take so much for granted,” said Chip Smith, president and CEO of Blue Ridge Log Cabins. “It is times like these that make us realize and appreciate the importance of what this academy is doing.”
Former House Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith of Spartanburg, Rep. Lanny Littlejohn, R-Gaffney, Spartanburg Regional Hospital Foundation, United Way of the Piedmont, The Spartanburg County Foundation, Mary Black Memorial Hospital and other Spartanburg County businesses made donations for the cabins.
“It’s incredible,” said Phillip Wright, CEO of Mary Black Health System and a Glenn Springs Academy board member. “So many people planned and worked so hard on it for so long. It’s incredible to think of what it will do for these boys, many of who came from an environment where they didn’t even have their own place to sleep.”
Smith said the retail cost of each cabin would have been $200,000-$260,000.
Kyle Boyles, director of development for Glenn Springs Academy, said the cabins are actually only the first phase of a $6 million project focused on adding buildings to increase capacity to about 100 boys and revamping the 48-acre campus to give the boys a better home.
“Over the years I’ve watched as we’ve added a gymnasium, classrooms an administration building and now these homes,” said Lorraine Norman, assistant director of Glenn Springs Academy. “I’ve seen the boys graduate high school, leave and go to college, get a job and come back with their families. Today it appears that most of our dreams have come true.”
The academy was founded in 1971 as a home and education facility for abused or neglected boys from the Upstate. It sits atop a bubbling spring, which was once a popular landmark for visitors during the late 19th century, because its waters were rumored to have healing powers.