Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 1, Pg. 64.
The Pike County Courthouse at Zebulon: The Grand Old Courthouses of Georgia
GSB JournalVol. 14, NO. 1August 2008The Pike County Courthouse at Zebulon: The Grand Old Courthouses of GeorgiaWilber W. CaldwellOnly two years after the Creek Indians ceded the vast tract between the Ocmulgee and the Flint Rivers to the state of Georgia in 1821, Pike County was cut from Monroe County. The new county established its first county seat at Riley's Crossroads, a place later called Newnan (not to be confused with Newnan in Coweta County). A log courthouse was erected there, but in 1824, when Upson County was created from Pike, the site at Newnan was abandoned in favor of a more central location. A new county town was laid out in 1825 and called Zebulon. A two-story frame courthouse was erected, and it stood until a fine Greek Revival courthouse rose in 1844. By then, the original county town of Newnan was only a memory.
In antebellum times, Zebulon prospered on the success of her cotton growers and on the strength of a robust wagon trade. But with the completion of The Atlanta and West Point Railroad in 1853 and the spur of The Upson County Railroad from Barnesville to Thomaston in 1857, Zebulon's thriving wagon trade was eclipsed, and the town settled back into obscurity. In 1860, Adiel Sherwood would write in his updated Gazetteer of the State of Georgia, "Since the railroad brings everything to Griffin and Barnesville, Zebulon out of the way is rather in decline." When The Atlanta and Florida Railroad arrived in Zebulon in 1888, the town counted only about 300 residents, and as a fine depot rose, agitation for a new courthouse simultaneously surfaced.
Finally in March of 1894, county leaders viewed the plans for Atlanta architects Bruce and Morgan's newly completed courthouse at Talbotton as well as a locally drawn design while paying only lip service to the far reaching financial woes which surrounded the tiny village and her failing railroad. Even though its planners were, ". . . aware of the great depression that exists in all branches of industry and trade," the new courthouse was to go forward.
Nonetheless, it may have been a spirit of frugality that moved county leaders in Zebulon to select a design by Atlanta's newest architect, James Wingfield Golucke, over the...