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Americus, Georgia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Americus
Municipal Building in Americus
Municipal Building in Americus
Flag of Americus
Official seal of Americus
Location in Sumter County and the state of Georgia
Location in Sumter County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 32°4′31″N 84°13′36″W / 32.07528°N 84.22667°W / 32.07528; -84.22667
CountryUnited States
StateGeorgia
CountySumter
Area
 • Total11.57 sq mi (29.96 km2)
 • Land11.35 sq mi (29.40 km2)
 • Water0.22 sq mi (0.57 km2)
Elevation
479 ft (146 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total16,230
 • Density1,429.96/sq mi (552.13/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
31709, 31710, 31719
Area code229
FIPS code13-02116[2]
GNIS feature ID0331037[3]
Websitewww.cityofamericus.net

Americus is the county seat of Sumter County, Georgia, United States.[4] As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 16,230. It is the principal city of the Americus Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers Schley and Sumter counties[5] and had a combined population of 36,966 at the 2000 census.[2]

Habitat for Humanity was founded in Americus and its international headquarters is there, as well as The Fuller Center for Housing's international headquarters, Georgia Southwestern State University, the Windsor Hotel, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers,[6] and many other organizations. The city is notable for its rich history, including a large business and residential historic district, being one of the 29 places where Martin Luther King was jailed, the infamous Leesburg Stockade incident, and its close proximity to Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Andersonville National Historic Site, and Koinonia Farm.

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Transcription

History

Americus Historic District
LocationIrregular pattern along Lee St. with extensions to Dudley St., railroad tracks, Rees Park, and Glessner St. (original), E. Church St. and Oak Grove Cemetery (increase), Americus, Georgia
Coordinates32°4′2″N 84°14′5″W / 32.06722°N 84.23472°W / 32.06722; -84.23472
Built1859 (increase)
ArchitectMultiple
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Late Gothic Revival, Romanesque
NRHP reference No.76000648 (original)
79003319[7] (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJanuary 1, 1976
Boundary increaseSeptember 3, 1979

Early years

For its first two decades, Americus was a small courthouse town. The arrival of the railroad in 1854 and, three decades later, local attorney Samuel H. Hawkins' construction of the only privately financed railroad in state history made Americus the eighth largest city in Georgia into the 20th century. It was known as the "Metropolis of Southwest Georgia", a reflection of its status as a cotton distribution center.

In 1890, Georgia's first chartered electric street car system went into operation in Americus. One of its restored cars is on permanent display at the Lake Blackshear Regional Library, a gift from the Robert T. Crabb family who acquired the street car in the 1940s.

The town was already graced with an abundance of antebellum and Victorian architecture when local capitalists opened the Windsor Hotel in 1892. A five-story Queen Anne edifice, it was designed by a Swedish architect, Gottfried L. Norrman, in Atlanta. Vice-President Thomas R. Marshall gave a speech from the balcony in 1917, and soon to be New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in the dining room in 1928.

On January 1, 1976, the city center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Americus Historic District. The district boundaries were extended in 1979.[7]

Into the 20th century

For the local minority community, Rev. Dr. Major W. Reddick established the Americus Institute (1897–1932). Booker T. Washington was a guest speaker there in May 1908. Rev. Alfred S. Staley was responsible for locating the state Masonic Orphanage in Americus, which served its function from 1898 to 1940. Both men engineered the unification of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia in 1915, the former as president and the latter as recording secretary. The public school named in honor of A.S. Staley was designated a National School of Excellence in 1990.

Two other colleges were also established in Americus, the Third District Agricultural and Mechanical School in 1906 (now Georgia Southwestern State University), and the South Georgia Trade and Vocational School in 1948 (now South Georgia Technical College). South Georgia Technical College is located on the original site of Souther Field.[8]

In World War I, an Army Air Service training facility, Souther Field (now Jimmy Carter Regional Airport), was commissioned northeast of the city limits. Charles A. Lindbergh, the "Lone Eagle", bought his first airplane and made his first solo flight there during a two-week stay in May 1923. Recommissioned for World War II, Souther Field was used for RAF pilot training (1941–1942)[9] as well as US pilot training before ending the war as a German prisoner-of-war camp. The town was incorporated in 1832, and the name Americus was picked out of a hat.[10]

Shoeless Joe Jackson served as the field manager for the local baseball team after his banishment from professional baseball. A plaque at Thomas Bell Stadium commemorates his contribution to the local baseball program.

Race relations and the civil rights movement

In 1913, a young black man named Will Redding was lynched by a white mob. Redding refused the Chief of Police's order to stop loitering, was arrested, a struggle ensued, and ultimately Redding grabbed the Chief's gun and shot him. He was then chased down, shot, and put in jail. An angry mob went into the jail and tore down the door to Redding's cell, dragged him out onto Forsyth street, and beat him to death with crow bars and hammers.[11]

Koinonia Farm, an interracial Christian community, was organized near Americus in 1942 by Clarence Jordan. Its interracial nature occasioned much opposition from local residents. A terrorist campaign of violence, intimidation, vandalism, and harassment by the Ku Klux Klan and others went on for the next 25 years, as well a boycott of Koinonia's products, such that by the late 1960s the once-thriving community was practically depopulated and essentially defunct. In the late 1960s Millard and Linda Fuller, with Clarence Jordan, revived Koinonia Farm and it thrived again. Miller and Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International at Koinonia in 1976 before moving it into Americus the following year. In 2005, they founded The Fuller Center for Housing, also in Americus. Koinonia Farm remains in operation and is currently located southwest of Americus on Highway 49.[12]

The civil rights era in Americus was a time of great turmoil. An uptown store which had refused to honor the Koinonia boycott was bombed in 1957.[13] The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCCC) organized the peaceful protests and a voter registration drive, the Americus Movement. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent a weekend in the courthouse jail in 1961, after an arrest in Albany.

In 1963 occurred the Leesburg Stockade incident. A group of African-American girls aged 12 to 15 were arrested in Americus after trying to buy movie tickets at a theatre's whites-only window, as a form of civil protest. At least fourteen girls were taken to a filthy "hellhole",[14] an isolated prison in Leesburg, Georgia where they were held incommunicado for at least 45 days, in appalling conditions, without right of correspondence or legal representation, and with their families not knowing where they had been or disappeared to. Some weeks later, the girls were surreptitiously photographed by Danny Lyon who had learned the girls' location. The publishing of Lyon's photograph in the black press eventually brought the situation to national attention, and the girls were released some weeks later without ever having been charged with any crime.[15][16][17]

In the same year of 1963, the local Sumter Movement to end racial segregation was organized and led by Rev. Joseph R. Campbell. Four of its activists were arrested under Georgia's 1871 Anti-Treason Act. A federal court ruled the law unconstitutional, establishing that peaceful protests could not be punishable by execution.[18][19] Color barriers were first removed in 1965 when J.W. Jones and Henry L. Williams joined the Americus police force. Lewis M. Lowe was elected as the first black city councilman ten years later. With their election in 1995, Eloise R. Paschal and Eddie Rhea Walker broke the gender barrier on the city's governing body.

In 1971, the city was featured in a Marshall Frady article, "Discovering One Another in a Georgia Town", in Life magazine. The portrayal of the city's school integration was relatively benign, especially considering the community's history of troubled race relations.

2007 tornado

Americus was hit by an EF3 tornado around 9:15 pm on March 1, 2007. The tornado was up to 1 mi-wide (1.6 km), and carved a 38 mi (61 km) path of destruction through the city and surrounding residential areas.[20] It destroyed parts of Sumter Regional Hospital, forcing the evacuations of all of the patients there. There were two fatalities at a Hudson Street residence near the hospital; all SRH patients were evacuated safely. The hospital, however, faced major reconstruction issues and was eventually torn down. A new hospital, Phoebe Sumter, opened at a new location on the corner of US 19 and Highway 280 in December 2011.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said, "It was worse that [sic] I had feared. The hospital was hit, but the devastation within the area of Sumter County and Americus was more than I imagined. The businesses around the hospital are totally destroyed. Power is still not restored in many places. It's just a blessing frankly that we didn't have more fatalities than we did."[21] Over 500 homes were affected, with around 100 completely destroyed. Several businesses throughout the town were seriously damaged or destroyed as well.

President George W. Bush visited the area on March 3, calling what he saw "tough devastation."

Geography

Americus is located at 32°4′31″N 84°13′36″W / 32.07528°N 84.22667°W / 32.07528; -84.22667 (32.075221, -84.226602).[22]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.7 square miles (28 km2), of which 10.5 square miles (27 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.87%) is water.

Climate

Climate data for Americus, Georgia, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1891–2005
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 85
(29)
84
(29)
93
(34)
95
(35)
102
(39)
108
(42)
108
(42)
110
(43)
111
(44)
98
(37)
90
(32)
86
(30)
111
(44)
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 59.0
(15.0)
62.6
(17.0)
69.8
(21.0)
76.5
(24.7)
84.2
(29.0)
89.0
(31.7)
90.8
(32.7)
90.4
(32.4)
86.5
(30.3)
77.9
(25.5)
68.1
(20.1)
61.0
(16.1)
76.3
(24.6)
Daily mean °F (°C) 46.9
(8.3)
50.2
(10.1)
56.4
(13.6)
63.0
(17.2)
71.4
(21.9)
77.7
(25.4)
80.4
(26.9)
79.8
(26.6)
75.3
(24.1)
65.5
(18.6)
55.1
(12.8)
49.1
(9.5)
64.2
(17.9)
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 34.7
(1.5)
37.8
(3.2)
43.0
(6.1)
49.6
(9.8)
58.7
(14.8)
66.4
(19.1)
70.0
(21.1)
69.2
(20.7)
64.1
(17.8)
53.1
(11.7)
42.0
(5.6)
37.1
(2.8)
52.1
(11.2)
Record low °F (°C) 3
(−16)
4
(−16)
14
(−10)
28
(−2)
40
(4)
45
(7)
55
(13)
57
(14)
39
(4)
28
(−2)
12
(−11)
2
(−17)
2
(−17)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.69
(119)
4.72
(120)
4.68
(119)
4.78
(121)
3.12
(79)
4.79
(122)
5.95
(151)
4.62
(117)
4.40
(112)
2.71
(69)
3.50
(89)
5.39
(137)
53.35
(1,355)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.25)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.25)
0.2
(0.5)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.5 8.8 8.6 7.4 6.8 11.3 12.1 10.7 7.4 5.6 7.6 9.3 105.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
Source 1: NOAA[23]
Source 2: National Weather Service[24]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18703,259
18803,63511.5%
18906,39876.0%
19007,67419.9%
19108,0635.1%
19209,01011.7%
19308,760−2.8%
19409,2815.9%
195011,38922.7%
196013,47218.3%
197016,09119.4%
198016,1200.2%
199016,5122.4%
200017,0133.0%
201017,0410.2%
202016,230−4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[25]
Americus racial composition as of 2020[26]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 4,382 27.0%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 10,079 62.1%
Native American 17 0.1%
Asian 394 2.43%
Pacific Islander 4 0.02%
Other/mixed 345 2.13%
Hispanic or Latino 1,009 6.22%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 16,230 people, 6,162 households, and 3,557 families residing in the city.

Economy

Largest employers

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[27] the largest employers in the area were:

# Employer # of employees
1 Sumter County Schools 950
2 Eaton Cooper Lighting 600
3 Habitat for Humanity 400
4 Wal-Mart 399
5 Phoebe Sumter Medical Center 396
6 Magnolia Manor 375
7 Georgia Southwestern State University 280
8 Southern Star Community Services 253
9 Sumter County 235
10 City of Americus 195

Education

Primary and secondary schools

The Sumter County School District holds grades pre-school to twelfth, which consist of one primary school and one elementary school, two middle schools, and two high schools.[28] The district has 353 full-time teachers and over 5,774 students.[29]

Elementary schools:

  • Sumter County Primary School
  • Sumter County Elementary School
  • Sumter County Intermediate School

Secondary schools:

  • Sumter County Middle School
  • Americus-Sumter Ninth Grade Academy
  • Americus-Sumter County High School

K-12 charter school:

  • Furlow Charter School

K-12 private school:

Higher education

All schools and colleges are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Public libraries

Lake Blackshear Regional Library of the Lake Blackshear Regional Library System

The community has the Lake Blackshear Regional Library, a part of the Lake Blackshear Regional Library System. It was temporarily relocated to a shirt factory warehouse also located in Americus after the tornado in 2007, but, once the reconstruction of the library finished around 2012, it was moved back to its original place.

Tourism

Baseball

There have been eight minor league teams that have represented the city of Americus during 20 seasons spanning 1906–2002. Since classification of the minors began, seven of them have been labeled as class D loops and one played in an independent league. Several ballplayers for Americus teams subsequently played in the major leagues.

Notable people

References

  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 18, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS Archived June 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-07-27.
  6. ^ "Rosalynn Carter Institute".
  7. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  8. ^ Souther Field
  9. ^ Gilbert S. Guinn, The Arnold Scheme: British Pilots, The American South and the Allies Daring Plan, History Press, 2007
  10. ^ Watson, Stephanie; Lisa Wojna (2008). Weird, Wacky, and Wild Georgia Trivia. Blue Bike Books. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-897278-44-4.
  11. ^ Anderson, Alan (July 30, 2006). Remembering Americus Georgia: Essays on Southern Life. History Press (SC). pp. 73–74https://books.google.com/books?id=svf_7DV9i6UC&pg=PA129&lpg=PA129&dq=remembering+americus+georgia+essays&source=bl&ots=8fJVoP2Xbf&sig=Z4YA9QeYHCJoQkww6tZLuGRoLv4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=J64cVLmbAoGZyAS8lIHYDg&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=remembering%20americus%20georgia%20essays&f=false. ISBN 9781596291317.
  12. ^ "Koinonia Farm". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  13. ^ Amanda Moore (April 25, 2017). "Facing Down the KKK: The Story of Koinonia Farm and Christian Hospitality". Sojourners. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  14. ^ Bradley George, Grant Blankenship (August 15, 2016). "The Girls Of The Leesburg Stockade". GBP (Georgia Public Broadcasting). Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  15. ^ Nedra Rhone, Rosalind Bentley (March 21, 2019). "Leesburg's legacy". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  16. ^ Tulani Salahu-Din. "Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls". Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  17. ^ Randi Kaye, Anne Clifford (September 17, 2023). "Stolen Girls: The untold story of the Leesburg Stockade Girls". CNN. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  18. ^ Glenn Robins (2020). "Americus Movement". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  19. ^ "Sumter County in the Civil Rights Movement". Georgia Historical Society. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  20. ^ "PRELIMINARY DAMAGE REPORT FOR 1 MARCH 2007 TORNADO OUTBREAK". Archived from the original on February 11, 2009.
  21. ^ "Sumter hospital shows tornado's worst punch". Archived from the original on July 12, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  22. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  23. ^ "U.S. Climate Normals Quick Access – Station: Americus, GA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  24. ^ "NOAA Online Weather Data – NWS Atlanta". National Weather Service. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  25. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  26. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  27. ^ "City of Americus 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  28. ^ Georgia Board of Education[permanent dead link], Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  29. ^ School Stats, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  30. ^ Georgia Southwestern State University Archived 2010-07-06 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  31. ^ South Georgia Technical College Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  32. ^ Habitat for Humanity Global Village and Discovery Center
  33. ^ "Mike Cheokas' Biography". Vote Smart. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
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