Category Archives: Jefferson GA

Jackson County Courthouse, 1879, Jefferson

Designed in the Italianate style, the old Jackson County Courthouse was modified to its present appearance by the addition of the portico and Neoclassical clock tower in 1908. Sitting on a high point visible over much of downtown Jefferson, it occupies a commanding position in the identity of the place. Though a modern courthouse just outside town replaced it in 2004, it continues to house some government offices and the Chamber of Commerce.

It should be noted that Jackson County is named for James Jackson (1757-1806), the “colossus” of 18th century Georgia politics. Born in England, he was sent to read law in Savannah in 1772. During his studies, the American Revolution intervened and Jackson distinguished himself in the unsuccessful defense of Savannah (1778), the Battle of Cowpens (1781), and the recoveries of Augusta (1781) and Savannah (1782).

He was elected to the First Congress where he was a prominent opponent of Federalism. This aligned him with the growing Jeffersonian faction. In his 1791 bid for re-election, he was defeated by his former commander Anthony Wayne in a race marked by voter fraud. After being elected to the state legislature, Jackson influenced the removal of Wayne’s campaign manager from a state judgeship.

By 1793, he was serving in the U. S. Senate but resigned in 1795 to return to the state legislature to help oversee the dissolution of the Yazoo Act, a land fraud perpetrated with the approval of Governor George Matthews. After being elected Governor in 1798, Jackson made sure anti-Yazoo language was included in the Constitution of 1799. His exposure of the Federalist involvement in the Yazoo fraud helped drive Georgia’s support for Jefferson. When his term as governor ended in 1801, he was again elected to the United States Senate, where he served until his death in 1806,

National Register of Historic Places

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Crawford W. Long Museum, Jefferson

2017 marked the 175th anniversary of Dr. Crawford W. Long‘s first use of ether as a surgical anesthetic in Jefferson (30 March 1842). Long first apprenticed under Dr. Grant in Jefferson in the mid-1830s before moving to Philadelphia and New York to complete his medical training. In 1841, Dr. Long was an astute observer of one of the social trends of the day, known as “ether frolics”, in which the participants enjoyed recreational use of the substance. Noting that they felt no pain, he theorized ether could be used as a surgical anesthetic and made his first test case removing a cyst from the neck of James Venable. Three witnesses confirmed the success of the operation and the absence of pain in Venable.

The circa 1858 Pendergrass Store building was transformed into an 1840s doctor’s office and apothecary to better interpret Long’s discovery, which paved the way for modern medicine. It serves as the Crawford W. Long Museum. After making my way from the courthouse to the museum to pick up a historic walking tour brochure, I had a nice visit. And better, I purchased a “got ether?” t-shirt, one of the coolest of its kind to be found in Georgia.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Historic Commercial Architecture, Jefferson

The Randolph-Porter Building (Circa 1891) is the gem of Jefferson’s commercial historic district.

There are some particularly nice examples of turn-of-the-century commercial storefronts on Washington Street, near the courthouse.

Walking down the hill and around the corner from the courthouse to the Crawford W. Long Museum, more historic storefronts can be found on College Street.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

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Martin Institute Mural, Jefferson

This mural in downtown Jefferson commemorates the Martin Institute, a coeducational center of learning first established as the Jackson County Academy in 1818. The name was changed around 1860 upon the bequest of a large monetary gift by the late Inferior Court Judge William Duncan Martin. The original home of the institute was burned in 1883 and replaced by the structured depicted here in 1886. The school’s reputation reached far beyond Jefferson; U. S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Rucker Lamar was but one of its distinguished alumni. The Institute served the community until 1942, when it was the victim of an arsonist who turned out to be the son of the Jefferson Police Chief.

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First Christian Church, 1912, Jefferson

This is one of several structures in Jackson County featuring decorative siding built by E. Scott Ethridge, who owned the local concrete plant. His own residence on the adjacent lot features the siding, as well.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Presbyterian Church, Circa 1858, Jefferson

Built just before the Civil War, the Presbyterian Church is the oldest church building in Jefferson. It originally featured a steeple which was lost to a storm in 1943. The Presbyterians shared the church with the Baptists until they built their first permanent home in 1887. A former private residence adjacent to the church now serves as the congregational office.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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First Baptist Church, 1921, Jefferson

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

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