Category Archives: Cordele GA

Mr. Fish Fry King, Cordele

This a soul food-seafood restaurant. The murals are nice.

Watt & Holmes Hardware Building, 1908, Cordele

This marble-front commercial block is one of the nicest historic retail buildings remaining in downtown Cordele. Its condition is probably not good, but hopefully, it can be saved. Watt and Holmes was one of the most successful businesses in early-20th-century Cordele. It was last home to an Allied Department Store.

Cordele Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Gillespie-Selden Institute, Cordele

President’s Home, Circa 1925, Gillespie-Selden Institute

The origins of this important landmark of African-American educational history in South Georgia can be traced to Dr. Augustus S. Clark and the St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The first facilities of the school were three wood-framed buildings, built through a gift of the Gillespie family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1903, and named the Gillespie Normal School in their honor. The first two structures pictured here were built when it was still known as the Gillespie Normal School.

Girls Dormitory, 1929, Gillespie-Selden Institute

In 1933, the school merged with the Selden Institute in Brunswick and the name was changed to the Gillespie-Selden Institute. Over the years, students came from as far away as New York and New Jersey. The Institute closed in 1956 due to citywide consolidation.

Administration Building, 1937, Gillespie-Selden Institute

A hospital was built in 1923 and named for its benefactor, Charles Helms. It was a vital part of the institute. (It is still standing but not pictured here; I will add a photograph later). At the time, the nearest hospital for blacks was in Atlanta. Selden Cottage, pictured below, was a school for nurses, associated with the hospital.

Selden Cottage, 1949, Gillespie-Selden Institute

This neighborhood, and particularly the remaining facilities of the Institute, represent a significant resource of a progressive African-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Preliminary efforts to document and preserve the site have been made, but I’m unsure as to their present status.

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

St. Paul Presbyterian Church, Circa 1900, Cordele

St. Paul Presbyterian is one of four historic churches in the Gillespie-Selden Historic District and the congregation most associated with the institute. Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959), the founder of the school, came to Cordele as a Presbyterian missionary in 1898. His first charge was to aid the struggling Portis Memorial Presbyterian Church and as a result of his work funding was secured for the construction of the present church, which was named St. Paul. It was in the basement of this church (which has since been expanded) that Dr. Clark first began teaching elementary school classes along with Sunday School. Dr. Clark was alarmed by the inadequate educational facilities for African-American students and made an appeal to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church for funding for a school and through the donation of Presbyterians in Northern states, funds were soon secured.

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Folk Victorian House, Cordele

Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

First United Methodist Church, 1914, Cordele

According to the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church: Cordele First United Methodist was organized in 1887, in the Cordele Academy, where services were held until the first building was completed in 1891. It is the oldest church in the city. The first service was held on the third Sunday in January, 1887, with 75 people attending and Rev. John Wesley Conners officiating. The simple, white building was large enough to host the 1891 session of the South Georgia Conference. The present building was erected in 1914.

It is one of the most architecturally unique Methodist churches in the state.

O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Christ Episcopal Church, 1897, Cordele

From the website of Christ Episcopal Church-Cordele: In his address to the Diocesan Convention of May 19, 1892, the Rt. Rev. Cleland Kinloch Nelson, then Bishop of Georgia, named Cordele as one of several towns which needed “to be attacked (to use the warlike phrase proper to a militant church) and to be strongly manned.” He pointed out that Cordele was a place where the church has, as yet, no foothold.

...detailed records of the beginnings of Christ Church were lost in 1944 when the priest’s residence burned. However it is known Bishop Nelson and Rev. Walker returned to Cordele in late 1896 and met at the Arthur Kirkland home with D. Ed Kennedy, C.C. Cutts and several others to finalize the organization of the Episcopal Church in Cordele…Christ Church, originally, was built on “Gunboat Hill” at the corner of South 9th St. and West 17th Ave. Shortly after the turn of the century, exact date unknown, the building was moved to the intersection of South 7th St. and East 14th Ave. At this time church school rooms were added to the rear of the structure. Moving the church the second time proved to be more difficult than anticipated and, according to newspaper accounts, the church sat almost in the middle of busy U.S. Highway 41 for a part of the time.

Now known as “the most traveled church in the Diocese of Georgia” the original building was moved to its third and present location at South 1st Street and East 15th Avenue in 1952.

Christ Episcopal Church is typical of other Episcopal churches in Georgia built around the turn of the last century.

O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Eclectic House, Cordele

O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Orien T. Gower House, 1920, Cordele

This was built for Orien Thomas Gower, Sr. (1879-1960), who served as judge of the Crisp Judicial Circuit for over sixteen years. I’m grateful to Cindie Craig for allowing me to photograph the wonderful trompe l’oeil ceiling in the dining room. Cindie and her husband Marvin are in the process of restoring the house.

The trompe l’oeil is painted on plaster and though it needs some slight cleaning and a cosmetic touch-up, it’s in amazing condition for its age.

O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

O. M. Heard House, Cordele

This is a nearly identical twin to the J. W. Cannon House.

O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places