Tag Archives: Georgia Commercial Architecture

Cotton Mill, Forsyth

This old brick mill building, with its distinctive towers, is located just beside I-75 north of Forsyth. It was a landmark on trips to and from Atlanta when I was a child. It’s an old cotton mill, perhaps the Brighton Mill, but was later part of Bibb Manufacturing Company, which built a modern mill behind it sometime after World War II. Today, it’s home to a discount furniture business. I will update when I learn more about the history.

Georgia Theatre, Athens

My daytime shot doesn’t really do this Athens icon justice, but when I was hanging out with my favorite local photographer at the Globe the night before, it never crossed my mind. [I’ll see if I can find some other, older shots]. But I digress.

Located on North Lumpkin Street in the heart of downtown, the Georgia Theatre has been, along with the 40 Watt Club, one of the centers of the thriving Athens music scene for many years. “Athens music scene” means different things to different people, but the Georgia Theatre has covered all the bases, hosting local favorites, as well as nationally known acts of all genres.

Opened in the late 1930s* the Georgia Theatre has had a varied history, both as a movie and live music venue. Various owners and even name changes have been a part of the chronology. After being gutted by fire on 19 June 2009, it was rebuilt using the original walls, soon thereafter and remains a beloved landmark.

*- A comment by Joe Vogel on Cinema Treasures incorporates an interesting primary source: An article in the October 13, 1936 issue of Film Daily listed 22 theaters either recently opened or under construction in Georgia, and the Georgia Theatre at Athens was among them. It was opened by Lucas & Jenkins, who already had the Palace Theatre in Athens. The article didn’t specify which houses had already opened, so the Georgia might not have opened until early 1937.

Waters Brothers, Commerce

Commerce Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Historic Storefronts, Lexington

The historic building on the right is clad in granite, a common building material in this area, which is located near the western extent of the Lexington-Oglesby Blue Granite Belt.

Lexington Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

A. J. Gillen Department Store, 1907, Maxeys

The Victorian commercial building on the right was originally home to the A. J. Gillen Department Store. In naming it a Place in Peril, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation noted: The building currently sits vacant. Due to Maxeys’ isolated location, the large size of the building and its deteriorating condition, attracting a business to the A.J. Gillen Department Store is a challenge. Without that investment, the building will continue to deteriorate.

I made this photograph several years ago and haven’t been through Maxeys in some time. I believe there was an effort to restore it, but do not know of any progress.

Ward’s Pharmacy, Elberton

This local landmark dates to at least the 1940s, and perhaps earlier. And, they still have a soda fountain and hand-dipped ice cream. The Art Deco storefront, once commonly seen on pharmacies and jewelry stores, is largely intact.

Elberton Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Athens Street, Carnesville

Carnesville isn’t well-known outside the area, and is one of the smaller county seats in Georgia, with between 500-600 residents. As county seats should, it sits smack dab in the middle of Franklin County, which was the first county in the state established after the Revolutionary War [much larger at the time, encompassing multiple modern counties]. While the location of Franklin County’s first seat of government is lost to history, Carnesville gained that designation in 1807.

It was named for Thomas Petters Carnes (1762-5 May 1822), whose service as a colonel in the Maryland Line during the Revolutionary War earned him a land bounty in Franklin County. He served in the Georgia House of Representatives, as a state court judge, Attorney General of Georgia, and in the U. S. House of Representatives, from 1793-1795, representing Athens [located at that time in Franklin County].

Central Avenue, Demorest

The building at left was constructed as the Odd Fellows Hall in 1901 and the shotgun store on the right, the only remaining wood-framed commercial building in Demorest, was built in 1893.

Demorest Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Baron-York Building, Circa 1875, Clarkesville

Built circa 1875, this is one of two 19th-century commercial buildings surviving in downtown Clarkesville. It is named for V. C. Baron’s Feed & Seed and M. C. York’s dry goods store.

Clarkesville Downtown Square Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Sibley Mill, 1880, Augusta

The Sibley Manufacturing Company was chartered in 1880 and construction of the Sibley Mill began on the site of the old Confederate Powder Works. Jones S. Davis, who also designed the Enterprise Mill, created an extraordinary factory, 528 feet long with three floors containing 24,000 spindles. A fourth floor was added by 1882 and 30 houses for workers were also built. The Neo-Gothic architecture recalled the appearance of the Confederate Powder Works and half a million bricks from the old factory were used in the construction.

The Sibley Mill produced around 2 million pounds of cotton in 1883 and that figure increased to 8.5 million pounds in 1894. It was a symbol of Augusta’s post-war prosperity and a major contributor to the state’s economic growth in the late 19th century.

Sibley Family Coat of Arms

An economic downturn in the early decades of the 20th century saw production fall below capacity by 1911. The Graniteville Company took over management of the mill in 1921 and purchased it in 1940, though the Sibley name remained.

In the late 1970s, the Sibley Mill began producing denim for Levi-Strauss but that ceased by 2006 and the facility shut down. The Augusta Canal Authority purchased the campus in 2010 and its presently being redeveloped as a mixed-use cyber works.

Augusta Canal Industrial District, National Register of Historic Places + National Historic Landmark + Augusta Canal National Heritage Area