Tag Archives: Georgia Commercial Architecture

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

Woolworth Department Store, 1939, Augusta

In its heyday, the F. W. Woolworth Company was one of the nation’s leading retail store chains. The location of the Augusta store was one of the busiest parts of the city when built in 1939. It closed in 1991 and has been empty since.

In 1960, its lunch counter was the site of a sit-in, protesting segregation, by a group of students from Augusta’s Paine College, a historically Black institution.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Odd Fellows Hall, Augusta

This late Victorian storefront was home to the International Order of Odd Fellows and is one of several surviving 19th century commercial buildings on 8th Street.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Imperial Theatre, 1918, Augusta

The Imperial Theatre was designed by Lloyd Preacher and nationally prominent theatre architect Claude K. Howell for Augusta entertainment entrepreneur Jake Wells. Howell was influenced by Louis Sullivan, as the Sullivanesque style would suggest. It opened on 18 February 1918 with B. F. Keith’s Supreme Vaudeville Company as the house troupe. On 18 April 1918 Charlie Chaplin appeared on the stage selling Liberty war bonds.

A quarantine brought on by the 1918 flu pandemic caused the shutdown of all public spaces in downtown Augusta by early autumn and this created financial difficulties for Wells, who sold the theatre to Lynch Enterprises. The quarantine was soon lifted and by the end of the year the Wells had become the Imperial.

The theatre underwent a partial remodel by Roy A. Benjamin in 1936 and continued to show films until 1981. It reopened as a performing arts space in 1985 and is presently undergoing further renovation.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

News Building, 1917, Augusta

Originally known as the Herald Building, for its first tenant, this Sullivanesque commercial landmark was designed by local architect G. Lloyd Preacher and opened in April 1917. It was a centerpiece of the effort to rebuild the downtown area after the Great Fire of 1916. The building was purchased by the Augusta Chronicle in 1955 after it merged with the Augusta Herald. It serves as the headquarters of Morris Communications today.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Miller Theater, 1940, Augusta

The Miller Theater, a landmark of the Art Moderne style, opened in 1940 and was one of Augusta’s busiest entertainment venues. It was the work of architect Roy A. Benjamin, who also designed the San Marco and Florida [with R. E. Hall] Theatres in Jacksonville, the Marion Theatre in Ocala, and the Sarasota Opera House, among others. The Three Faces of Eve, a popular movie starring Georgia native Joanne Woodward, and based on the bestselling book by Augusta psychiatrists Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, premiered at the Miller in 1957. Years of decline followed its closure as a first-run movie house in 1984, but community involvement and a $25 million renovation made its reopening in 2018 possible.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Commerce Building, Augusta

This late-19th-century block was originally known as the Chris Gray Building but was renovated in 1899 by John R. Schneider and was known as the Schneider Building for a time. The renovation was done by architect H. H. Johannsen and the Georgia marble siding added by William F. Bowe.

Broad Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Penny Savings Bank, 1925, Augusta

The Penny Savings Loan and Investment Company was formed by a group of Augusta’s leading Black businessmen in 1910. This structure, based on designs by architect G. Lloyd Preacher, was built in 1925. An anchor of the Black business district known as the “Golden Blocks”, it closed its doors in 1928 as a result of economic woes and the looming Great Depression. Though stable, the structure has been long abandoned and attempts at rehabilitation have not materialized.

Laney-Walker North Historic District, National Register of Historic Places