Category Archives: –POLK COUNTY GA–

Mill Smokestack, 1898, Aragon

Aragon Mill was established in 1898 by Wolcott & Campbell of New York and the community bearing its name was linked inextricably to the fortunes of the business. It was purchased by Augustus Julliard in 1900 and saw numerous improvements and significant expansion during his ownership. It became a United Merchants Mill in the 1930s and shut down in 1970. Several efforts to revive the mill were made over the next three decades but most of the complex was lost to fire on 6 August 2002. The smokestack, bearing the name Aragon, is the most significant remaining relic of the mill.

The American labor and social activist Si Kahn penned a song about the loss of mill village culture entitled “Aragon Mill” in the early 1970s.

Goodyear Elementary School, 1930, Rockmart

This elementary school, built by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company soon after they opened a factory in Rockmart, is typical of other schools of the era. It is no longer in use. The Rockmart plant of Goodyear Tire & Rubber was responsible, for many years, for the production of the giant balloons used each year in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Van Wert Methodist Church, 1846, Polk County

Van Wert was settled in the early 1830s [formally laid out in 1837] in Paulding County. It was named for Isaac Van Wert, one of the captors of Benedict Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John André. Van Wert served as the county seat until 1851 when a section of Paulding County became Polk County. The Methodist Church was built in 1846 and was shared by the Baptists until 1850.

In 1872, the most famous preacher in the South got his start at this church. Samuel Porter Jones, known professionally as Sam P. Jones, is estimated to have preached to over 3 million people all over America, throughout his career. Upon his death in 1906, his body lay in state in the capitol in Atlanta before burial in Cartersville.

The church is leaning a bit to the right, but I understand it has been recently stabilized.

Brewster Mercantile Company, 1901, Esom Hill

A 1994 article by Gordon Sargent in North Georgia Journal notes that as long as most people can remember, this northwest Georgia community has enjoyed a rich reputation for high crimes and high times. Such has been the reputation for the little state line community in northwest Georgia’s Polk County for decades, an image fostered by a long record of illicit activities such as moonshining, gambling, and even darker crimes like murder.  And surprisingly, it seemed the stronger the criminal element became in the township, the less visible was law enforcement. Despite its infamy, Esom Hill, according to many residents, is a friendly community with caring neighbors and a bad name circulated by “outsiders”.  Just like many situations, the truth lies somewhere in
between.

A post office was established in the community, which was associated with the Shiloh Baptist Church, in 1850. It’s only about a mile from the Alabama state line. The origins of the name are unclear. In its heyday, Easom Hill had five general stores, three churches, a school, and a saloon. Two gins and a sawmill were also present.

Joseph Proctor Screven Brewster, who built this store after his first mercantile burned in 1901, was one of the pioneers of Esom Hill. It was one of the first businesses in the county to have electric power, provided by an early Delco System generator. It also served as the post office, with Brewster serving as postmaster.

Cedartown, Georgia

Cedartown GA Clock Old Stores Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Cedartown is the county seat of Polk County and derives its name for Fort Cedar Town (after nearby Cedar Creek), a stockade built during the 1830s as an internment camp for Native Americans on the Trail of Tears. Much of its historic downtown remains today and there are four National Register Historic Districts throughout the city.

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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West Theatre, 1941, Cedartown

I’ve seen many Georgia theatres in my travels and even had the opportunity to photograph some for the Fox Theatre Institute a couple of years ago, but this is one of the most unique and fascinating I’ve yet encountered.  Designed by the architectural firm of Tucker & Howell, it was originally owned by the LAM Amusement Company. Over the years, it’s been painted in multi-colors and with a black and white theme, but owner Ken Browning told me that the current palette is closest to the original. It shows first-run movies and has recently been digitized.  The allegorical reliefs (Drama & Music) flanking the entrance were designed by Georgia sculptor Julian Hoke Harris.

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

Historic Main Street Storefronts, Cedartown

One thing that will immediately get your attention as you drive into Cedartown is the large number of remaining buildings in the downtown area. While many are vacant, they remain intact and are quite an imposing presence.

Like any small town, many businesses have moved to the more modern “strip” just outside town, but Cedartown has worked hard to keep these structures freshly painted and relevant.

Most of the buildings in this area, the core of the National Register Historic District, date to the early 20th century.

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Cedartown

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

Polk County Courthouse No. 2, Cedartown

Designed by Otis Clay Poundstone and built by the W. P. A. as the Cedartown City Hall, this has also housed the police and fire departments and city auditorium. Today, it sits adjacent to Polk County’s main courthouse (built in 1951) and serves as an annex.

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Bank Building, Cedartown

Cedartown Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places