Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

HARTFORD


Western Laurens County's Oldest Town


You may have never heard of Hartford, Georgia.  If you have, you may have never thought of it as being in Laurens County.  But from December 10, 1807 to December 10, 1808, this ancient and dead town of Central Georgia lied within the bounds of Laurens County.  Located at an important crossing spot on the Ocmulgee River, Hartford became the first county seat in Georgia named for a woman.   By the slimmest of margins, Hartford  failed to become one of the most important cities in Georgia history.

The area which became Hartford, Georgia was located on the eastern banks of the Ocmulgee River, opposite Hawkinsville.    The State of Georgia acquired all of the land between the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers from the Creek Nation under the treaty of Ft. Wilkinson in 1801.  Hartford, located at  the extreme southwestern limits of the state at a point where the Lower Uchee Trail crossed the Ocmulgee River, became an important and strategic location for the location of a trading post and frontier defense outposts.  Many historians believe that the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto came to the Hartford area.  Early authorities believed the Spaniard's expedition traveled along the Lower Uchee Trail crossing the Oconee River in northern Laurens County.  Recently, historians have theorized that DeSoto traveled north from Hartford to Macon, where he turned northeast and crossed the Oconee below Milledgeville.    An 1806 survey shows the confluence of two trails just east of the town.

With the opening of the new lands to the Ocmulgee and in anticipation of the acquisition of additional lands beyond the river, the Georgia Legislature contemplated the  relocation of the capital at Louisville.  Forward-looking legislators realized that a new capital should be located on a navigable river.  The finalist locations were Milledgeville on  the Oconee and Hartford on the Ocmulgee.

Milledgeville was selected by a mere one vote.  Supporters of Hartford, which was located on navigable waters, had the last laugh, when after the location of the capital at Milledgeville, it was discovered that the new city was several miles above the limits of the navigable portion of the Oconee River.

Laurens County was created by an act of the legislature on December 10, 1807.  The original limits of the county extended to the upper line of Telfair County near the mouth of Crooked Creek on the southwest and just above the mouth of Shellstone Creek the lower line of what would become Twiggs County.

Just one year after the creation of Laurens County, a new county, Pulaski, was carved from the western portion of Laurens on December 13, 1808.  Named for Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish soldier who gave his life in support of the American independence, Pulaski County originally included all of present day Bleckley and Dodge Counties and all of present day Pulaski east of the Ocmulgee.

Counties weren't organized overnight.  A legislative act of December 13, 1809 fixed the site of the public buildings of the new county in Land Lot 394 of the 21st Land District.  A year later, George Walker, Jacob Snell, Allen Tooke, William S. Lancaster and Josiah Everett were chosen as commissioners of the town of Hartford.

The commissioners were given the authority to sell lots for the building of a courthouse and jail.    The new town was named in honor of Nancy Hart, Georgia's heroine of the American Revolution.  Hart County, also named in honor of Hart in 1853, is the only county in Georgia named for a woman.  In 1811, Thomas A. Hill, Solomon Hopkins, Elijah Wallace, Malbourn Lyon and Henry Simmons were named town commissioners until an election could be held in 1813.

Hartford, it was believed, was going to be a thriving port city.  Physicians and lawyers  moved there in hopes of building their practices, and consequently, their fortunes.

During its first six years of the county's existence, residents of Hartford and Pulaski County found themselves in constant perils from Indian tribes living across the river.  Four forts were constructed.  Fort Mitchell was located near Hartford. Fort Greene was located six miles to the south.  Many Laurens Countians volunteered for and were called upon to do his share of frontier duty.  General David Blackshear, of Laurens County, was placed in command of the troops along the Pulaski front.

It was once said that all roads led to Hartford.  The Lower Uchee Trail ran through present day Cochran and followed Georgia Highway 26 west of Dublin and crossed the Oconee River between the Dublin Country Club and Blackshear's Ferry on a northeasterly course to the Augusta area.   A Federal Road was constructed from Milledgeville through Longstreet down to Hartford. The Chicken Road ran from Hartford  to what became Empire.  After running a few miles south of present  day Dudley, the Chicken Road (still in existence) entered Dublin along Moore Station Road.

In addition to old Indian trails, four military roads were constructed during the War of 1812.  The first road was built by Major Elijah Blackshear of Laurens County.  This road ran northeasterly along the Chicken Road to Empire. From that point, the road generally followed U.S. Hwy. 23 to the Georgia coast near Darien.

A second road was used by General David Blackshear to transport troops along the eastern banks of the Ocmulgee northward to Camp Hope near Macon.  The General also constructed a road running southeast along the Ocmulgee through Jacksonville, the ancient capital of Telfair County, and down the Altamaha to the coast.  The fourth, and most famous Blackshear Road, ran westerly from Hartford through Indian territory to Fort Early.  This road provided a vital way of passage during the
Indian troubles of 1818.

It was during 1818, when Hartford became the center of military operations against the Seminoles in Florida and southern Georgia and Alabama.  General Andrew Jackson and his army spent a week in Hartford in preparation for military actions.

By 1836, the need to move the county seat across the river became apparent. With most of the county lying on the west side of the river and the land around Hartford not being suitable for expansion, the legislature voted to establish Hawkinsville as the new capital of Pulaski County.

Today, there are few, if any,  remnants of Old Hartford.  Though the area is still known as the Hartford District, the ancient cedars which once surrounded the courthouse are gone as well.   The next time you travel to Hawkinsville, think back two hundred years ago to a time when this tiny hamlet of Hartford nearly became the capital of Georgia.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

ONCE UPON AN ANECDOTE: BAD MAN, GOOD MAN



George was born on August 16,  1899  in the tiny town of Weed in Otero County in what was once called the New Mexico Territory.  As a youngster, George grew up in another tiny town,  Cross Cut, Texas - south of the cattle towns of Ft. Worth and Abilene.  As he became a teenager, George decided that he cared not at all for being a bartender nor a cowboy as his father had been.  Playing music was what he wanted to do when he grew up. 

George picked up a fiddle and a guitar and by the age of twelve, was a favorite performer at cowboy dances in Brown County in central Texas.   George, of Irish and Cherokee descent, had no formal training in learning how to play his musical instruments.  He listened and watched and became a pretty fair fiddler and guitarist.   In 1928, George was performing on the radio over in the big city of El Paso.  Still anchored to his father’s ranch, George made the fateful decision to leave home.  

Off he went out to Hollywood as a member of the Arizona Wranglers, joining his cousin “Cactus Mack” in the group, which sung on radio programs and performed at rodeos in the Southwest.    As George began to learn more about music, he began to write and perform his own compositions. 

To help pay the bills, George joined Hoot Gibson’s Rodeo.  His friends and colleagues penned the name of “Pee Wee” on Georgia during his brief career as a rodeo rider with Hoot Gibson’s Rodeo show. 

George then made a career changing, life altering decision.  He left his musical career and took a role with Gibson in a western called, “Wild Horse” in 1931. It was during the year 1932 in the darkest days of the Great Depression when George got a minor role in a twelve-chapter serial movie, The Hurricane Express, starring a very young John Wayne. (above) 

For most of the 1930s, George could be seen in a long litany of western movies, playing mostly villains, henchmen and cattle rustlers.  In that decade, George appeared in at least 112 movies, mostly westerns, but did have a minor role in the iconic science fiction serial Flash Gordon. 

In the 1940s, George’s career as a cowboy in the movies, with occasional appearance in a war movie or  crime dramas, continued for about 75 more pictures until he made another career changing move.



George with Boris Karloff

George accepted Universal Studios’ offer for a completely new role for him.  Playing opposite John Carradine as Dracula and Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman and Boris Karloff as Dr. Niemann,  George starred in the title role as Hollywood’s second Frankenstein monster in 1944's “House of Frankenstein” another of  Universal’s classic series of monster movies.

George reprised his role the following year joining Chaney and Carradine in a sequel, “House of Dracula.”   In 1948, George returned to the big screen as he scared all of  the wits of Lou Costello and Bud Abbott in “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Lon Chaney, Jr. returned as the Wolf Man and Hollywood’s number one Dracula, Bela Lugosi joined George in Hollywood’s most classic trio of monsters. 

As the 1940s came to end, George continued to work often in films, but as television began to rise in popularity, George began to accept roles on the small screen. In one of earliest roles, George portrayed “Butch Cavendish,” (left) the evil. fiendish villain, who killed a party of Texas Rangers, except “John Reed,” who managed to survive the attack and become “The Lone Ranger.”  George repeated his role for seven more episodes as the masked man’s, most wanted antagonist. 

Appearing in episodes of The Cisco Kid, Kit Carson, Judge Roy Bean, The Restless gun, Wyatt Earp and Annie Oakley, George, in high demand as a character actor in western tv shows which dominated the air waves in the 1950s, finally found his longest and most well known role.

George was invited to audition for the role of Sam Noonan on a highly popular western show.  He would play that role for a dozen plus years until his death in 1973.  

For you see, the once rancher and son of a bartender, who left Texas behind to become a musician and a singer, took on the role of Sam, the bartender, in TV’s most successful western ever, Gunsmoke. 

 As the most famous bartender in television, the strong silent and steadfast Sam, George Glenn Strange from behind the bar kept order in the Long Branch Saloon until Matt Dillon, Festus or a host of deputies arrived to put an end the ruckuses. 

The man whom his friends once called “Pee Wee,” was actually six foot five inches tall and weighed in at more than 200 pounds - a size which made him an excellent choice to play Dr.  Frankenstein’s monster. 


Glenn George Strange, "Sam Noonan," Gunsmoke


     In his forty-four years in movies and television, Glenn Strange played good guys, bad guys, mostly bad guys in as many as 500 roles. 

A television’s most famous bartender, Sam Noonan  poured thousands of shots of whiskey.  In reality, Glenn Strange was teatotaler and rarely drank any alcohol. 

The man, who was described as part Irish and one-eighth Cherokee,  was more than just part Indian.  After spending a career portraying cowboys fighting Indians, Glenn Strange was the seventh great grandson of John Rolfe of Virginia, and his Pamunkey Indian bride, Pocohantas. 

Regrettably, Glenn Strange has no ties to our area, but he is definitely a piece of our past.  I hope you enjoyed my new style of telling you stories under the banner of “Once Upon an Anecdote.”  As a fifth generation Braswell story teller, I can promise you there will be more interesting and fascinating stories to come.  And yes, many of them will relate to Laurens County and East Central Georgia. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

LOLLIE, GEORGIA POST OFFICE

Lollie


Doug Hall - Dublin Courier Herald, June 4, 1976




A chapter in local history closes at 4:30 p.m. today when Lollie joins Lime Sink, Condor, and Wylly, Tweed, Inez and Ha toff, Dodo, Pearly and Brutas, Maggie, Itville and Nameless, Catlin, Thairdell and Walkee as defunct post offices.

Originally there were 53 post offices in Laurens County, now there will be seven, and one of those is threatened. Remaining will be post offices in Dublin, Dexter, Rentz, Cad well, Dudley, Montrose and Rockledge, another post office that might be In the same boat as Lollie soon.

In many ways, the closing of the tiny post office is no different than hundreds of cases across the USA where small town post offices are being shut down as part of an austerity move by the Postal Service.

But Lollie is something special, too.

To the 35 or so families who could find their way blindfolded to the familiar one-room building, the U. S. Post Office at Lollie, Ga. is a place to pick up a bit of news about a neighbor, wait for the school bus, while away some peaceful moments or just catch one of those ever flashing
smiles from the beloved postmistress, Pearl Wynn Spivey.

She's been handing out the mail in Lollie for 32 years. Before she took over, her father was postmaster for 18 years. The Lollie Post Office has been in her family for 50 of its 84 years. Today is her last day. "I'll be like a fish out of water," she said pressing firmly on the worn out rubber-
stamp postmark.

"I kind of hate to give it up," she sighs as she scans to old place. Her husband suggests they will go to Hawaii if the price of cows rises enough that be "won't have to give 'em away." She shakes her head and says no. But Florida would be nice.

Mrs. Spivey had planned retirement even before the news came that the post office would be closed.

As much as the Spiveys hate to give up the post office, the patrons do too. Maybe more.

One fellow doesn't "like the damn idea at all." Said Helen Ricks, "1 don't like it a bit. What we ought to do is all get together and write our congressman. "The post office has been here 84 years and they give you one week to get up a clean pair of britches and say, 'let's go,' " griped S. B. Hester.

Mrs. Spivey was told only last Friday that the place would be closed.

A notice tacked on the door says the post office will be "temporarily discontinued" at the close of business today, but everybody knows that is only a polite way of saying the days of the little post office are over.

Dublin postmaster Hartley Hobbs who now has responsibility of the Lollie area would not argue with the sentiment attached to the community post office. But Hobbs says the people who used the Lollie Post Office will get the same service now on Rural Route 6.

"Before they close one of these post offices they study it all out. Where a rural route or contract station can take over just as well, they go ahead and close it." he explained. The closing of the post office runs deeper than surface complaints over lack of service.

"You can't even buy a gallon of gasoline here." Mr. Spivey remarked. Jumping to Lollie's defense, Mrs. Spivey argues unconvincingly, "We do have a little bit of excitement around here on Saturday night: we have an auction."

Earlier this year a hatchery In the crossroads town closed. Only a farm center remains open. There was a time when the little community eight miles southeast of Dublin on Ga. 29 had five grocery stores. But no more.

"I hate that the little town has gone down," Mrs. Spivey, who has lived at Lollie longer than anyone else, said.

Like many places that are only crossroads, Lollie claimed to be a town and rested its case on having a post office.

Really there has been no Lollie for a long time. The town was named Minter when a station of the Macon, Dublin and Savannah Railroad was established there many years ago. But the post office has always been called Lollie in honor of Lollie Pritchett, wife of a big landowner and sawmill operator, George Pritchett.

It is probably true that some Washington bureaucrat gave official confirmation to Lollie's classification as a ghost town by closing the post office.

Mrs. Spivey has fond memories of the days when trains made four stops a day at Minter station. The mail service was prompt and dependable.

"I don't think those post office fellows would like to hear me say it but in those days you could order something from Sears-Roebuck and it would get here In two or three days," the postmistress remembered.

"But today, well, I don't know..."

The post office was always general delivery. There were no rented boxes. Mrs. Spivey notes that proudly. Numbers on post office boxes would never do in a place as friendly as Lollie. The rickety post office building will now be used for storage. Sacks of seeds and bales of hay will rest where seven chairs — some ladderback with worn cowhide seat covers — now sit. The counter made of hard-planed lumber years ago will grow dusty.

The locals who have leaned back in those chairs against that counter for more years than Mrs. Spivey can remember will be around no longer to keep the place looking alive. And pretty soon Lollie Post Office may look about like a deserted grocery store next door — vines and weeds taken over with little to suggest what an important place it once was.

THE MAN WHO BUILT THE SKYSCRAPER


      Frank Corker was building his dream up into the sky, straight up to the sun.   That dream eventually evaporated into a nightmare.  For five score and two years, her frame has endured. Through a pair of successor banks and a legion of professionals and businessmen, the  seven-story stone tower has stood as a sturdy sentinel against incessant apathy and the eroding winds of time which have blown and blown in a futile attempt to bring her to the ground.   Now is the time that  the long dormant, towering hive of gnawing rodents, perching pigeons and  creepy crawlers of the night will awaken and Frank Corker’s dream will once again, and hopefully forever more, come true.

Frank Gratton Corker was born in 1869 in Burke County, Georgia.  His father, Stephen A. Corker, was five years removed from leading his company up the slopes of Gettysburg’s Cemetery Ridge in an initially successful, but quickly fatal, breaking of the Union lines late on the evening of July 2, 1863 - a success which led to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s belief that a full out strike on the Union center led by Gen. George Pickett would be successful the next day.

Corker, as the son of a wealthy plantation owner, attorney, state representative and congressman, enjoyed the rudiments of a fine education.  Growing up with his two brothers, Stephen, Jr. and Palmer, gave Frank a great advantage in his studies. Following in his father’s footsteps of practicing law and serving others, Corker was a champion debater in the University of Georgia’s Few Society and a prominent member of Alpha Tau Omega. Corker later helped to establish a chapter of that latter fraternity  at Georgia Tech.   Frank graduated from the law school at Emory College.

Frank Corker married Alice Lillian Cole of Savannah  in 1890 and  moved to Dublin. Corker joined his brother Stephen, who was described in an 1888 Augusta Chronicle article as “an enterprising merchant of Dublin.”

Corker chose to live in and practice law in Dublin because it was on the cusp of an economic boom, where lawyers would be needed and fortunes could be made.  And, best of all, it was not too far from his favorite resort, Savannah’s Tybee Island.

Within three years, Corker became so popular that he was elected on the Citizens ticket as Mayor of Dublin in 1893, defeating the equally popular Lucien Q. Stubbs, a local military leader and newspaper editor who was elected many more times in the future.  The Citizens party was determined to stem the ever rising tide of crime and immorality in the burgeoning city.

Corker, in addition to his daily duties as a practicing attorney, served as the Solicitor of the County Court.  Corker, who continued to practiced law in the booming city, turned to commercial interests to boost his ever growing fortune.   Along with his brothers, Stephen and Palmer, Frank Corker formed the Dublin Cotton Oil Company, which was sold at a handsome profit in 1901 to Virginia-Carolina Chemical Company, which became Southern Cotton Oil Company.

One of Corker’s most lasting contributions to the Emerald City of Dublin was as the president of the Dublin Free Public Library.  In 1904, Corker, on behalf of the board, accepted mega philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s $10,000.00 donation to build a public library in Dublin, one without a charge to its patrons.

Corker’s public interests were strongly rooted in education.  As a member of the Dublin City  Board of Education for more than a decade, Corker, who served many terms as the board’s president,  worked with the library in its early years and oversaw the construction of the High School (now City Hall) and the Johnson Street and Saxon Heights elementary schools.


Original First National Bank of Dublin, ca. 1902
125 W. Jackson St.

In the year 1902, Frank Corker founded and opened the First National Bank of Dublin, the city’s third bank.   The first order of business was the construction of a building made of stone and brick and terra cotta and located  at the intersection of West Jackson and North Lawrence Streets.  The bank opened on August 18, 1902 with three thousand dollars being deposited on the first day.   It shall be noted that Frank Corker’s brother, Palmer, was the founder and first president of the First National Bank of Waynesboro.



Within a decade the bank had outgrown its quarters.  The directors decided to erect a seven-story bank building on the southwest corner of South Jefferson and West Madison Streets, on the site of the post office.   A. Ten Eyck Brown, prominent Atlanta architect and designer of the Fulton County Courthouse and the Atlanta Post Office, was chosen to design the new building.   The towering structure, seven stories tall and made of nearly fireproof materials, dominated the skyline of Dublin.   The architect designed the building’s foundation sufficient enough to support an additional three floors. Sixty offices for business and professional men were constructed above the bank's offices.  Nearly from its beginning, the First National was Dublin's leading bank.

Corker’s elegant, Ionic columned, neo classical home at 712 Bellevue, now owned by Griffin Lovett, is considered the crown jewel of Bellevue Avenue.  Corker occupied the three-story home from about 1903 until his removal to Atlanta.


Corker Home, Bellevue Avenue


A founding member of the Dublin Board of Trade in 1902, Corker was also a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce in 1911.   His business expertise and economic power and influence led to his appointments as a director of the Dublin Cotton Mill and the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad - the latter  position which allowed him free passage on his trips to his favorite destination on Tybee Island.


1903 Dublin's Post Office on the site of 
The First National Bank Building

In August 1903, Corker built Dublin’s first permanent post office on the southwest corner of S. Jefferson Street and W. Madison Street.  The salmon and steel gray brick structure complete  with lots of light to satisfy the postal workers inside.   Before the move, the post office was situated inside the Corker Building, a two-story office/department store building at 111 W. Jackson Street, which was built by Corker in 1899.

Frank Corker was, among many things, a car afficionado.   Corker was among the first men in Dublin to own his own automobile, a White gasoline car.  In 1911, Corker promoted car tours across the state by the state’s wealthiest and most influential men.


Northview Mausoleum


Corker’s final and enduring gift to the city was the construction of the mausoleum at Northview Cemetery.   Construction began in 1915 on one of the South’s first public mausoleum’s and the first public mausoleum in the state.  Little did Corker know that  when he began the project,  that his dear mother, Margaret Myrtis Palmer, who died on May 13, 1916, would become the first person to be interred in the sandy stone structure, which was built in the same style and with many of the same materials as the First National Bank building.

Corker and his family moved about 1920 to Atlanta, where he could manage his commercial interests in that city.  The financial magnate owned many commercial properties in the capital city including the Cecil Hotel.

A Methodist by birth who later attended Druid Hills Baptist Church during his latter years in Atlanta, a  Mason and a Shriner, Corker enjoyed many outings at the Druid Hills Country Club near his home.

One winters’ day, Corker, a successful real estate dealer, both in Dublin and Atlanta, came home  from his office in the Hurt Building in Atlanta.  Not feeling well, he took leave of his supper and retired to bed early.  He was found dead in his bedroom of his home at 1347 Fairview Road  the following morning of Christmas Eve 1931.    Frank Corker was buried in Westview Cemetery, leaving behind his widow Alice, who died in 1961, along with his  daughters - May, Lula, and Myrtis - and sons - Paul Gratton, Frank Burke, William B.  and Isadore Newman.

Frank Corker’s dream became a nightmare in the autumn of 1928.  The once powerful First National Bank, the largest country bank in Georgia which occupied the ground floors of the tallest building between Macon and Savannah, failed.

And now, some eighty-seven autumns later, Corker’s dream lives again.



Photo @ Gil Gillis

Saturday, September 12, 2015

THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBLIN, GEORGIA


THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK


The Largest Country Bank in Georgia



During the score of years between 1895 and 1915, the city of Dublin, Georgia grew astronomically from a new railroad depot town to one of the largest economic centers in Georgia. In order to thrive, the progressive minded businessmen of the city divided into groups to organize banks to finance their personal business interests. At the zenith of Dublin's rise, Laurens County was home to more banks than any other county in Georgia, with the exception of Fulton and Chatam counties. At the top of the list in Laurens County was the First National Bank, which was billed as the largest country bank in Georgia. Regardless of the validity of that claim, the First National, and in particular its board of directors, played a profound role in the growth and development of Dublin during its golden age at the dawn of the 20th Century, the age of the Emerald City.



Five of Dublin's most influential and successful businessman formed the nucleus of the First National Bank. Frank G. Corker, a Waynesboro, Georgia native and University of Georgia law school graduate, was the first and only president of the bank. While Mayor of Dublin in the early 1890s, Corker led the final push to rid the city of illegal alcoholic beverage sales, which had stymied the growth of the town for nearly two decades and which had given Dublin the reputation of being a lawless town. While being an astute businessman and highly successful attorney, Corker realized the importance of education and lent his skills as President of the Board of Education. J.E. "Banjo" Smith, Jr., Dublin's leading businessman of the first decade of the 20th Century, was the first Vice-President. After Smith left to form his own bank, "The City National," the First National had two vice-presidents; William S. Phillips and William B. Rice. Phillips, , who came to Dublin from Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1892, established a large livery and livestock business and in doing so established a small fortune. William B. Rice, known as Captain Rice by the people of his day, was a leader manufacturer of turpentine and a saw mill operator. Rice, who hailed from South Carolina, operated out of the pine rich Adrian, Georgia area, before coming to Dublin in 1900. He too amassed a small fortune, partly from his skills as a planter. Corker, Phillips, and Rice chose Andrew W. Garrett, former exchange clerk of the Dublin Banking Company and cashier of the Laurens Banking Company, as the cashier. Garrett, the only member of the quartet, with previous banking experience, was a former timber dealer from Hancock County. He was respected by all for his financial ability, as well as his stalwart character and unimpeachable integrity.



The First National Bank was chartered in April 1902 with an initial capital stock of fifty thousand dollars. The principal stockholders were Frank G. Corker, William S. Phillips, and J.E. Smith, Jr., the latter being one of the top three movers and shakers in town. C.W. Brantley and A.B. Jones, directors of the Dublin Banking Co., and W.W. Bush, director of the Laurens Banking Company, were chosen to be directors, along with B.H. Rawls, W.S. Phillips, D.W. Gilbert, F.M. Daniel, S.M. Kellam, and John Wilkes. of 1st National, and W.W. Bush, director of Laurens Banking Company. T.O. Dupree, former bookkeeper for the Star Store, was the bookkeeper.



The First National's directors chose a prime location on the northeast corner of North Lawrence (Laurens) Street and West Jackson Street. The location was a part of the Farmers and Merchants Bank for nearly eight decades. The directors chose the highly respected Atlanta architectural firm of Bruce and Morgan, who also designed the Laurens County Courthouse, the Carnegie Library, and the First Baptist Church to design the one story brick building. I.C. Huffman was selected as the contractor. The outside of the building was made of stone and Virginia brick. The floor was built in the Roman masonic style and had to be laid by outside craftsmen. Delivery of the vault was late forcing a delay in completion of the building until September 10, 1902, one hundred years ago today.



In the early decades of the 20th Century, National Banks were allowed to circulate their own currency with their name imprinted on the bills. The First National Bank initially issued $12,500.00 in denominations of ten and twenty dollars, for which the bank purchased an equal amount in U.S. Bonds. Of the thousands of bills issued by the bank less than a dozen are known to remain. Most of the bills were exchanged when the Federal government down sized the size of currency in 1929 and made the "horse-blanket" bills worthless, except to collectors.



As Dublin grew, so did the First National Bank. The board of directors began to look around for a site to build a new bank. They were looking for a site which would be close to the leading commercial concerns. At that time, the commercial center of Dublin lay between Jackson Street on the north, Washington Street on the east, the railroads on the south and Monroe Street on the west. The center of the district was at the intersection of South Jefferson and Madison Street and that's the spot where Corker chose to build the new bank. Corker chose the old post office site on the southwest corner of the intersection. The directors wanted to erect an impressive structure, not just one which would draw customers from competing banks, but one which would also lure professionals and businessmen from the agri-businesses, which sprung up during the city's golden age.



The bank secured the services of A. Ten Eyck Brown, an Atlanta architect, who was one of the leading architects of the Southeast. While standing nearly one hundred feet tall, the building was narrow, only thirty one feet in width. The first story, twenty two feet in height, featured a mezzanine, which was over the main floor of the bank. As one entered the lobby, the president's office and the cashier's office were located on the right. Behind the main office of the bank in the center of the first floor were the vaults. The director's room was situated at the front of the mezzanine level. The clerical staff kept the records at the rear of the mezzanine.




Most impressive were the marble floors and walls of the main banking room. In the lobby was Dublin's first elevator, one which ascended six floors of the tallest building between Macon and Savannah. Ornamental plaster patterns and elaborate bronze teller screens, as impressive as any in a metropolitan bank, were Brown's finishing touches to Dublin's first skyscraper. The vaults, which included four hundred safety deposit boxes, were designed to be fireproof. As a matter of fact, the building, constructed primarily of concrete, stone, and steel, was itself virtually fireproof. Above the bank were sixty four office spaces, equipped with the modern conveniences of lighting and heating, but alas no air-conditioning, except in the form of electric fans and open windows, the latter of which was most effective on the upper floors, which were impervious to flying insects. Construction was completed in February of 1913.



The First National Bank, the last Dublin bank to survive the economic collapse following the coming of the boll weevil in 1917, closed its doors in 1928. A receiver was appointed to disburse the remaining assets between depositors. Mills Lane, President of the Citizens and Southern Bank of Savannah, came to the rescue of Dublin's remaining business interests by first establishing a private bank, and then in the early thirties, establishing the Citizens and Southern Bank of Dublin, which remained in the First National building until the early 1950s.






A. TEN EYCK BROWN


Designer of Dublin's Skyscraper



A. Ten Eyck Brown loved to design tall buildings. When the directors of the First National Bank began looking for an architect to design their new bank building, they knew they wanted someone who could design something more than just an efficient office building. They wanted someone who could design a building, which could make a statement about their bank and their community as well. The board didn't have to look beyond the capital city of Georgia. Considered a master architect of his era, Brown designed several of the most famous public buildings in the southeastern United States. What Brown gave the board was the most magnificent building ever constructed in Dublin and one which was known for nearly a century as the tallest building between Macon and Savannah.



Andrew Ten Eyck Brown was born Albany, New York in 1878. His family was of Dutch origin. He was born to be an architect, just like his father, who was prominent in architectural circles in New York's capital city. Brown received his formal training at the Academy of Design in New York. He practiced architecture in New York, Washington, D.C., and Nashville before moving to Atlanta in the early 1900s, where Brown established his offices in the Forsyth Building. His career in Atlanta spanned nearly four decades until his death in 1940.



The First National Bank of Dublin opened for business in 1902 on the northeast corner of West Jackson Street and North Lawrence Street on the site later occupied by the Farmers and Merchants Bank. The board of directors, led by bank president Frank G. Corker began to look for a site to build a new building which would also house professional and business offices. They chose a site on the southwest corner of South Jefferson and West Madison Streets on the site of the old post office. In March of 1912, the board selected A. Ten Eyck Brown to design their building. Corker, in a letter recommending Brown for another project, said of Brown, " believing him to be better equipped after a careful study of his references than anyone else of whom we had knowledge to do our work."



Brown's design of the six-story building included a basement. Brown utilized a technique often used on sailing ships to bring natural light to the basement. Small glass bricks were placed along the sidewalk above shafts, which descended a few feet and turned at a right angles into the basement. There was a mezzanine above the bank's offices, which were situated on the twenty-two foot tall first floor. The floors of the main banking room were made of Georgia marble, while the walls and ceilings were made of ornamental plaster. The elaborately decorated main vault was placed in plain view for all to see. The tellers stood behind an impressive bronze and marble screen. Above the first floor were sixty-four offices, which could be reached by stairway or with a modern elevator, the first of its kind in Dublin. The exterior three-foot tall base of the building is composed of granite, while the remainder is made of terra cotta limestone. The building is supported by a combination of steel beams and reinforced concrete. Very little of the original building contained any wood, making it for many years the only A-rated insurance building in Dublin. Another attractive feature of the building, especially to the tenants, workers, and customers were the modern steam heating and plumbing systems. Cooling was not particularly a problem. Electric fans did well. On the upper floors many people often opened the windows to pick up a cool breeze without the aggravation of flying insects which rarely flew to such heights. Brown designed the building with a foundation which could have supported three more floors. Brown further anticipated future growth of the area and designed the southern face of the building with less expensive brick and with less ornamental features, just in case a neighbor decided to build a twin tower.



Although he was primarily known as a designer of public and office buildings, one of Brown's earliest designs was the fabulous Georgian Hotel in Athens, Georgia, which was completed in 1909. The hotel was as elegant as any hotel outside of Atlanta. Five years later, the Clarke County Courthouse, a four-story yellow brick building, was completed next door to the hotel. The courthouse in Athens was one of three major courthouses designed by Brown and completed in 1914. Brown designed the Neo-Classical Revival style courthouse in Salisbury, North Carolina. The Rowan County Courthouse features huge Ionic columns on its portico.



Brown's other courthouse design which was completed in 1914 was the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. Brown collaborated with Thomas Henry Morgan, whose firms Morgan and Dillon and Morgan, Dillon, and Bruce designed the Laurens County Courthouse of 1895 and Carnegie Library. The Fulton courthouse building, which is still used today, is said to be "the finest example of beaux's arts classic architecture in the South." This massive structure, which was one of the tallest buildings in Atlanta at the time of its construction, was the first "million-dollar" courthouse in Georgia. Brown designed two other courthouses in Georgia; the Spalding County Courthouse in Griffin, which was completed in 1911, but was tragically destroyed by fire in 1981, and the four-story white marble, Cherokee County Courthouse in Canton, which was completed in 1926 and is said to be one of the finest public buildings in Georgia. Brown designed the courthouse in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1911. His design and architectural skills were applauded by city officials who recommended his services to the mayors of Dallas, Texas and New York City for the design of their new courthouse buildings.



Brown is widely known among architectural historians and preservationists as the designer of several other major buildings in the Atlanta area. In 1918, his design of the two-story granite building to house the offices of the Federal Reserve Bank on the old site of the First Presbyterian Church was completed. The building has gone through a series of renovations and expansions over the years. The original building was too small to house the government offices, but not because of Brown's design, but more likely because of limited funds during the economic depression during and following World War I. Thirteen years later in1931, Brown designed the new Atlanta Post Office Building to handle the ever expanding volume of mail coming through the Atlanta office. Today the building is known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building. One of the most unique and popular buildings in the Atlanta area is the Cyclorama Building in Grant Park. The lead architect in the 1921 project was J.T. Browning. Browning utilized the services of other architects, including Ten Eyck Brown.



Other noteworthy buildings in the Atlanta area include: the Ten Park Place Building near Five Points, which features the rare modernistic style of architecture; the Cooper Street School and various schools built in the 1920s while Brown was the supervising architect of Fulton County Schools, Spotswood Hill - the home of Georgia's premier historian, Lucian Lamar Knight - The Atlanta Municipal Market, St. Anthony's Church, the Luckie Street YMCA, and the Thornton Building on Pryor Street. Brown also designed the Third National Bank and the Guarantee Trust Bank. Countless other buildings designed by Brown have fallen victim to the agony of progress.



Brown's most famous design outside of Georgia was the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Construction on the twenty-seven story, three hundred fifty foot tall, building began in 1925. A powerful 1926 hurricane delayed the construction period to a total of three years. The base of the courthouse is made of Stone Mountain granite, while the upper portion is constructed of terra cotta, much like the First National Bank building in Dublin. Brown designed the four-million dollar building, which was once one of the tallest buildings in Florida, in collaboration with August Geiger



Ten Eyck Brown, in his day, was one of the best governmental and commercial architects and his buildings were tall and grand. Many of them were so well designed that they should continue to be used for more than a century. The next time you are downtown, look, up in the sky, and see the glory and grandeur of Dublin's skyscraper, Ten Eyck Brown's gift to the Emerald City.

Friday, September 04, 2015

CHARLES EDWARD CHOATE


   Designer Of Our Lives


Charles Edward Choate, minister and architect, walked the roads of life, designing the lives of those whom he came into contact with.  Whether through envisioning buildings which shaped our lives or delivering sermons which were intended to shape our Christian lives, Choate became one of Georgia’s most prolific architects. His most lasting impact can be found in the twin railroad cities of Sandersville and Tennille.

Not limited to those Washington County cities, Choate’s designs can found across the state.  One of the more elegant, the Isadore Bashinski house, can be found right here in Dublin.  It shall be also be noted that for a brief time during his transition from the ministry to architecture, Choate briefly studied in Dublin under the tutelage of another Methodist Minister/architect,

Charles Edward Choate was born August 31, 1865 in Houston County, Georgia, one hundred anf fifty years ago.  A son of Charles Thompson Choate and his bride, Ann DuPree Roquemore Choate, Choate’s architectural skills may have been inherited from his grandfather, Jacob Thompson Choate, who is credited with designing the Milledgeville’s old capitol building and Macon’s Wesleyan College.


Bashinski-Claxton-Davis Home 
705 Bellevue Avenue, Dublin, Ga.

A life long learner, Choate completed his first round of formal education at the University of Georgia in 1889.  Soon, his focus began to shift toward sharing the Gospel. Ordained by the South Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1891, Rev. Choate served churches in Gordon (1892) and  Wrightsville (1894.)

During that time, Charles worked as a draftsman, for a time in the offices of Peter Dennis in Macon.  Rev. Choate left the active ministry to concentrate on his architectural career.  After completing his studies at Vanderbilt University in 1898, he announced that he was forming a partnership with the Rev. George C.  Thompson in Dublin.  It was during that last year of the 19th Century, when Choate spent much of his time working with his fellow minister/architect in Dublin. Thompson, well known and well respected minister of the South Georgia conference, specialized in designing churches, courthouses and schools.  The First United Methodist Church in Dublin and Wesley Memorial Methodist Church are among his most well known designs.

Charles Choate chose the hand of Agnes S. Dodson on July 5, 1900, in her home of  Maysville.  The Choates returned to Sandersville, where Choate’s career began to take off.  During the time of their five-year engagement and reportedly at the behest of his fiancĂ©, Choate’s ministerial duties waned as he devoted more time to Agnes and his new profession.

Choate focused most of his attention of designs in Sandersville and Tennille, where the largest group of his most enduring projects can still be found.  It was during the “Golden Age” of the twin cities when Choate began to shine as an architect.

His grandest facade can be found of the south side of the Central of Georgia railroad’s tracks in Tennille.  The headquarters building of the Wrightsville & Tennille Railroad. Some of them include high-style Victorian residences such as the Paris-Veal House, ornate commercial structures such as the Holt Brothers Banking Building  and Gothic churches such as the Tennille Baptist Church.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Choates hoped to find expanded opportunities.  The economic troubles of the 1890s were history and Augusta, once again, was on the rise.  Choate formed a partnership with Joseph Turner.  When Turner died in 1903, Choate took over the business.

Situated in a new city, Choate was selected to do design some of the city’s most modern and classic residences on Green Street and in the suburb of Summerville,  as well as the parsonage of St. John’s Methodist Church and the Y.M.C.A. building.

Choate never abandoned Washington County as he kept on designing buildings for paying customers.  In Athens, he designed the Neoclassical women’s dormitory, the Winnie Davis Memorial Hall.  Choate was exceedingly popular among house builders in many parts of eastern Georgia.

Also in demand as a designer of churches, Choate drew plans for the Methodist churches in Wrightsville (left) and Stillmore and the Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina.

After less than a decade, the Choates left Augusta for even more opportunities in the booming metropolis of Atlanta, where he opened an office in the prestigious Candler building.    As demand for Choate’s designs continued to rise across the entire state,  he continued to further his education to better serve his clients.


Described as “keenly observant, open to learning new ideas, and with a high attention to detail,” Choate, among the state’s most respected architects, seemed to feel the need to move around often.  He opened a new office in Orlando, Florida and spent the last couple of years of his life in Montgomery, Alabama.

Charles Edward Choate died on November 16, 1929 in Maysville, Kentucky, his wife’s hometown.

Philosopher, writer and world leader Winston Churchill once marked, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”


Today, one hundred and fifty years after his birth, the legacies of Charles Edward Choate can still be found in Georgia and the Southeast.  His designs, many of which can be found among the listings on the National Register of Historic Places, ranged from the simple and Craftsman style to elaborate, ornate Victorian ones.    Choate was indeed, a man of God and a man of his craft, who will continue to design our lives for centuries to come.