October 31, 2021
(photos and memories from October 2012)
In early October nine years ago I came upon the town of Greenville, Georgia. This is a small place, population 800 or so, but only about 50 miles southwest of Atlanta. Like so many other “Greenvilles” in the United States, this town was named for Revolutionary War General and hero Nathaniel Greene, the man who drove the British army out of the deep Southern states and toward its ultimate surrender at Yorktown, Virginia. Although Greenville is the county seat, Meriwether County is best known for the town of Warm Springs, which was President Franklin Roosevelt’s vacation home, the site of his polio therapy, and the place of his death in 1945.
The courthouse here is strikingly grand — a two-story red brick structure with a white cupola. It was built in the late 1800s, suffered fire damage in 1976, and was then refurbished. The grand building dominates the little town of 800, sitting in the middle of the town’s central square and traffic circle.
When I went inside, the security chief volunteered to give me a tour of the courthouse. The first stop on the impromptu tour was the top-floor courtroom and a wall-sized portrait of William Yates Atkinson, Meriwether county native and former Georgia governor.
The second stop on the tour was a personal introduction to the local DA (district attorney) and assistant DA — a youngish black man in a dark gray suit, and a youngish woman in a purple dress. These two were standing in the DA’s office telling jokes when the security guard and I arrived. They both greeted me warmly, and their relaxed attitude gave me the impression that this small, rural county didn’t suffer from the scourge of rampant crime and violence.
For the third stop, I was taken to meet the Judge of Magistrate Court, whom the security guard told me was a full-blooded Cherokee. Unfortunately, the judge was attending to some cases at the jail and so wasn’t in her office. Her assistant greeted me and showed me her photo and some hand-made Cherokee paraphernalia hung on the walls.
The courthouse tour ended there. I thanked the security guard for his time and let him get back to his station at the front entrance. Here’s a final photo of the courthouse, with the town’s Methodist church on the right.
Generally speaking, in most Southern towns the Baptist denomination is the most prominent religious sect. In Greenville however, the town’s Methodist church, next to the courthouse, seems most prominent.
Greenville is a small town of 800 residents, so the “business district” consists of the shops along the outer side of the traffic circle that goes around the courthouse. It seems vibrant enough though:
These photos were taken in October 2012. The Greenville Cafe is now the Willows Eatery. Their Facebook page (at the link) includes a few short videos to welcome your visit.
Perhaps the owners of this fine home in town bought their castle from the realtor in the photograph above. They seem to be northern transplants — notice the Pittsburgh Steelers sign.
Here are two more fine homes I saw in Greenville:
The old county jailhouse is now the county sheriff’s office. Perhaps the Magistrate Court Judge was inside when I was touring the courthouse?
A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.
All photos were taken by the author on October 5, 2012.
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