Category Archives: Sparta GA

Hancock County Courthouse Rededication, Sparta


I spent many good times in Hancock County when I was a student at Georgia College and still visit at least once a year to explore its wonderful architecture. I was devastated when I learned that their historic courthouse had been consumed by fire on 11 August 2014. But thanks to the untiring determination of Commission Chairman Sistie Hudson, Her Majesty, as the courthouse is often called, rose from the ashes.


Two years to the day after the fire I made my way to Sparta to attend the rededication ceremony. At a time when many counties are building generic government facilities, Hancock County made sure their “new” courthouse would pay homage to the original. It’s nearly identical. Thanks largely to assistance from the insurance fund of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the $7 million project was executed wonderfully, and should stand as an example to other counties as to how to deal with such crises in the future.


The clouds moved in just as we reached Sparta. But it never rained. A large crowd was already gathered and it just kept growing. There was a sense of pride and community that one rarely sees these days.


Politicians were on hand, along with the public, to christen the new and improved courthouse.


Former Congressman and Hancock County native Buddy Darden


Putnam County Commissioner Billy Webster.


Hancock County Commission Chairman Sistie Hudson.


After speeches were made and a benediction given, the clouds slowly began to clear.


The future looks great for Her Majesty and Hancock County.


The photos that follow are random images of people at the ceremony. One of the things I took away from this day was a great sense of community pride, and that’s reassuring in these divisive times.









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Restoration of Sayre-Alford House, Sparta


One of the “Twin Houses of Sparta”, which was long in a state of neglect and disrepair, the Sayre-Alford House (circa 1829) has been beautifully restored by architect Ben Carter. The image below is from 2011.


Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places



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Baxter-Powell House, Circa 1820, Sparta


Sistie Hudson writes that she and her husband, Robert, restored this house in 1979 and lived here for 17 years.  She also notes: It really is not the Lafayette-Baxter-Powell House as it states on a sign there—–the first owner was Richard Baxter, the longest ownership was Lafayette Powell, after that was Hudson’s, Harper, Clary (didn’t live here, just flipped it), Lambert, and now Matson.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Visionary Artist Johnny Culver, Sparta


When I was in Sparta to photograph the rededication of the Hancock County Courthouse, I met this gentleman. John “Johnny” Culver is a visionary artist who came back to his hometown of Sparta in 2000 after living in the Atlanta for a time. While there, he suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 20, after a failed relationship. He told me that creating the art gave him the ability to come back from that and he was very clear that God gets all the credit.


He works in paint and ink and on every imaginable surface. I also feel lucky, since he told me he does not usually allow photographs. I found a few images of him online from an article by Tom Patterson and a piece by Fred Scruton and one or two from his London-based gallerist, but that was it. I’m so glad we made a connection and that he placed the trust in me to share.


All Art Objects Pictured are © John Culver, Sparta, Georgia


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Roberts-Beall House, Circa 1845, Sparta

Roberts Beall House Antebellum Sparta GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Located on Monument Square across from the courthouse, this antebellum survivor is stable but in dire need of further restoration. It’s one of my many favorites in Sparta, a town worth the drive from anywhere in Georgia. I’ve met some really nice folks here who are proud to talk about their rich history. The town was founded in 1795 by Major Charles Abercrombie of North Carolina, a veteran of the American Revolution.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Sparta Feed & Seed, Circa 1890s

Sparta GA Old Store Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Thanks to Neale Nickels of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation for the identification. The property is presently for sale through the Trust’s Revolving Fund.

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Masonic Lodge, Sparta

Masonic Lodge Sparta GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Sparta Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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