Category Archives: –GWINNETT COUNTY GA–

Elisha Winn House, Circa 1812, Dacula

The Elisha Winn House was built about 1812 in what was then Jackson County, and is perhaps the oldest extant house in the Atlanta metro area. Winn, who was a Justice of the Inferior Court, purchased the land, with Roger and Elijah Pugh, in 1809. It was part of a 7300 acre tract bordered by the Apalachee River. It became part of Gwinnett County on 15 December 1818, when the Georgia legislature created the counties of Gwinnett, Walton, and Hall, in part from Jackson County, as well as from former Indian lands.

The property is also significant as the first de facto center of government in Gwinnett County, hosting the Inferior Court and the first county elections. A barn on the grounds [no longer extant] hosted the Superior Court. Elisha Winn served as a judge of the Inferior Court from 1820-1825. He also served as a state senator for Gwinnett County in 1826, and a state representative in 1830, 1833, and 1837.

Lawrenceville was established as the Gwinnett County seat in 1821 and the Winns relocated there circa 1824.

Historic Structures Relocated to the Elisha Winn Property

Several structures representative of 19th and early-20th-century history in Gwinnett County have been relocated to the Winn property over the years. A representative mule barn [built in another county in 1917], can be seen in the background of the photo below.

Old Lawrenceville Jail, 1820s

The first jail in Gwinnett County was located on the Winn property but was demolished in 1933 by Jack Sims, who owned it at the time, and his employee Amos Hutchins, who lived most of his life on the old Winn place. As part of a collection of historical buildings, the old Lawrenceville jail [above], built in the 1820s and similar to the original jail, was relocated here for preservation. [Moravian missionaries who refused to get permits to live in Cherokee territory were briefly held in this structure before being transferred to a larger jail in Walton County].

Walnut Grove Schoolhouse, 1875

Typical of rural one-room schoolhouses of the era, the Walnut Grove school was originally located near Walnut Grove Church and the Methodist Campground. It was donated to the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1986 and opened for tours in 1988.

Cotton House, Early 20th Century

Structures of this type would have been present on working cotton plantations and farms in late-19th and early-20th century Gwinnett County. This example was donated to the historical society in 2001.

Alfred R. Clack Blacksmith Shop, Circa 1910

Dr. Donald S. Bickers, who also donated the cotton house, donated this structure to the historical society in 2000. It was built circa 1910 by his grandfather, Alfred R. Clack, who used it until late in his life. He died in 1948 and Dr. Bickers kept the structure in good condition.

National Register of Historic Places [Elisha Winn House, excluding other structures]

Isaac Adair House, Circa 1827, Lawrenceville

Gwinnett County notes of this landmark house and its builder: Isaac Adair made his mark in the Gwinnett County community during the years of 1824-1844. He arrived from South Carolina in 1824 and settled in Lawrenceville. One of the oldest houses in Gwinnett County, the Isaac Adair House was built circa 1827 near the intersection of what is now Pike Street and Hurricane Shoals Road. It was disassembled and moved to Chandler Road starting in 1984. Gwinnett County agreed to move and preserve the historic structure when it bought the land for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension construction project in 2008.

The home is well constructed and represents a building style found in the southern states from 1780-1820. The architectural style is considered to be both Federal (Adam) and Georgian. Some of the characteristics of this style include a two-story box style that is two rooms deep with doors and windows in strict symmetry, paneled front door with glass, windows, and a side gable roof and small entry porch. Rectangular light and sidelights display a beautiful doorway. The construction of this home used hand-planed boards and mortise and tenon joints.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places but has since been de-listed. I’m unsure as to why, unless for its re-relocation. I have not been inside but the exterior appears to be a perfect renovation. Regardless, I think it’s wonderful that Gwinnett County found a prominent and home for it downtown. It’s accessible from the parking lot of the adjacent Lawrenceville Female Seminary.

Lawrenceville Female Seminary, 1855

A young ladies’ finishing school known as the Lawrenceville Female Seminary was established here in 1838. One of the trustees, Daniel Killian, was responsible for its construction. That structure, apparently very similar to this one, was destroyed by fire and was replaced by the present structure in 1855. It served as a seminary until 1886. In its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, it was described as simple, rather masculine, late-Federal early-Greek Revival. It is the most significant early public structure surviving in Lawrenceville.

The Lawrenceville Masonic Lodge No. 181 began using the second floor in 1860 and made it their home until the 1970s. Over the years the lower floor was occupied by various tenants and was also used as a public gathering place. It serves as the Gwinnett History Museum today.

National Register of Historic Places

Clarence R. Ware House, 1910, Lawrenceville

In a town which has lost the vast majority of its historic architecture, the home of Clarence R. Ware is a reminder of days gone by, before urbanization redefined Lawrenceville and Gwinnett County. Clarence R. Ware (1872-1955) served as Gwinnett County school superintendent from 1907-1920. He also served as the first president and director of the First National Bank of Lawrenceville.

National Register of Historic Places

Gwinnett County Courthouse, 1885, Lawrenceville

This courthouse, designed by English-born American architect Edmund George Lind*, served Gwinnett County until 1988, when population growth necessitated a move to a larger more modern facility. It is maintained as an event space today.

*- Lind, who practiced architecture in Atlanta from 1882-1892, also designed the Mary Willis Library in Washington.

National Register of Historic Places

Ezzard Building, 1952, Lawrenceville

The sign in front of this building at the corner of the courthouse square notes: Dr. Webster Price Ezzard was one of Lawrenceville’s most notable and recognized residents. A reliable and trusted country doctor, he served the community for over 60 years from his office on the town square, in the rear of the Jones Pharmacy Building, later Montfort Drugs. Dr. Ezzard delivered babies and made house calls for only $20. He charged his patients based on their ability to pay, often dispensing his services for free to people in need. Known for never taking a vacation, Dr. Ezzard was quoted as saying, “Retirement will come about two days before I go to the cemetery.” Dr. Ezzard’s drugstore soda fountain also provided a social setting for the young people of Lawrenceville. From the 1940s thru the 1960s, teens would gather for Coca Colas, malts, and dance the jitterbug to rock and roll. Dr. Ezzard’s son George took up the medical practice after his father’s death in 1963 at the age of 83. One of Dr. Ezzard’s most famous deliveries was 1949-51 Heavyweight Champion Ezzard Charles.