Commercial Ruins, Cordele

It’s a real shame that these structures are in such terrible condition. A section of the street is fenced off, giving one the impression of being in the inner city of a much larger place. The fanlights on the buildings at right in the lower image are an important architectural feature, increasingly rare today.

Update: As of 2018, all of these structures have been razed.

Cordele Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


18 thoughts on “Commercial Ruins, Cordele

  1. Marcia Morgan D'Augustine

    Jake Roobin of Roobin’s Department Store was my uncle by marriage. His wife, Anne Morgan Roobin was my father’s sister. They were both lovely people and Cordele was a nice little town in my youth. I understand the department store itself was demolished to make way for a newer building. Surely that was after these pictures were taken. I do hope there some revitalization can take place. Things look very sad but I’m grateful to have seen them.
    Thank you for the work you do Mr. Brown. I’ve lived in the Northeast for 50 years now but these old pictures remind me of the places of my childhood. I’ve been to a good many. Again, many thanks.

  2. Virginia Spradley

    There needs to be an update on this site. A very beautiful 3 story Darton College Building sits on this site. It is being occupied at this time.

  3. Michael Jacobs

    Brian, Thank you so much for posting these pictures of Cordele. Yes, they do remind me of ghost towns in Montana. You are right though. If the buildings could talk, I could sit and listen to them for hours. Imagine the stories they could tell. These photos definitely pay tribute to your mission of preserving the past.

    I am glad to see that a fence is up because of construction of new buildings, according to another poster. Maybe a true re-vitalization will take place.

  4. Pat Gresley

    I’ve never been there so my thoughts may not apply here….but these old buildings seem like they’d be perfect to rent out to someone who wants an inexpensive place to make an artists studio, workshop, car detailer, bike shop or a micro brewery. Anything really….just rent them cheap so that someone can get in there and give it a go. Some kind of rent must be better than no rent at all. Artist types are pretty handy at fixing things up….let them make improvements in exchange for a discount on the rent. That way the building gets fixed up a little, the renter gets something for their sweat….a business is born and maybe things get better for everyone involved.
    This may all be a fantasy in my head…..but I’d like to see if it would work.

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      I totally agree, Pat, though through these photographs I’m not trying to convey anything negative about Cordele. It’s a great place, but like so many other small towns who have tried numerous things to revitalize their depressed downtowns, it often seems to fall short in one way or another. Your point about cheap rent is a good one, and sometimes that is offered as an incentive. But sometimes, there’s just no one in a particular community who has that vision. Cordele has far too much historic architecture to just let it all go. I hope they are working on a solution and wish them the best.

  5. Royce Moore

    I was born in Cordele at what was then then Adams Hospital. My Mother and Father were both from Crisp County. My great grandfather came to Crisp Co. in a covered wagon after the “Southern Revolution”. Many of my ancestors are buried in and around the county. It will be my last stand also. I also feel regret that the old town has become a ghost town. Why destroy such beautiful old buildings. This is NOT progress but outright plunder.

    1. leila presha

      My grandfather bu Smith is from cordele….his grandfather Augustus built the first beaula land Baptist church…..

  6. Abby

    It is a shame that the beautiful buildings have gone to ruin. The fencing is for future construction for a new education center. Hopefully this will encourage a facelift for the rest of downtown.

  7. Fred Gleaton

    I used to get off I-75 occasionally and drive through my old home town when passing by. Now it is just way too sad so I don’t do it anymore. Seeing these beautiful old buildings abandoned for crap out by the highway at least reminds me that Cordele was a pretty nice place 50 years ago.

    1. Victor McGough

      I feel as you do. My grandfather, grandmother and uncle lived there and we would visit them often in the summer. I also remember the farmers market on the north side of town. Last time I was in Cordele I bought a jar of May Ha jelly. Sorry about misspelling Roobins. I remember the last time I was in there with my aunt, Sam Roobins waited on us. I think that was his name. all the men in town were required to grow beards to celebrate some anniversary of the town. If you didn’t grow one you would be fined. Mr. Roobins said he would rather pay the fine.

      1. Fred Gleaton

        I will tell you a story about Mr. Sam. He was a wonderful fellow and a good friend of my father’s. His college roommate was “Melvin Israel” who became the famous sportscaster, Mel Allen. At least that is what Mr. Sam told me when I was a lad. Not to be outdone by his famous friend, Sam was the PA announcer for years at Crisp Co HS football games.

      2. Victor McGough

        I never knew Mel Allen’s real name was Israel. He was one of my favorite announcers. I believe I heard him once say he went to Alabama. Another memory comes back. After my grandfather, John McGough, passed away my grandmother , Frances McGough worked at Roobins for several years. Thanks for all the memory prods.

      3. Karel Ruffin

        My families are from Cordele, I grew up going there every summer and Christmas. Roobins department store was wonderful!!!!! Pool room hotdogs!!! The cold movie theatre in the summertime. The Singer family, Dorough , Lay , Murray families , all my families. They are all buried there in town and at Midway Cemetery. Mac Hyman was my fathers dear friend.

  8. Victor McGough

    What a shame to see it in such condition. I remember when I was young my aunts would go to Cordele to shop. There was the Woods Theater, Rubin’s dept. store and a large gift shop (can’t remember the name. Last time I was in Cordele all of the commerce had moved out by I 75.

    1. Fred Gleaton

      Roobin’s was great. At one time there were 3 theaters downtown. Your aunts probably shopped at Smith Sisters Gifts.:


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