Georgia County Government - October 2008 - (Page 111)

Georgia’s Grand Old Courthouses Georgia’s Courthouses and the American Renaissance By Wilber W. Caldwell Wilcox County Courthouse at Abbeville. Photo by Wilber W. Caldwell. I n 1893, the buildings of the great World’s Fair and Colombian Exposition at Chicago sparked a sudden national architectural enthusiasm for an excessively flowery BeauxArts Classicism. Before the turn of the century, a neoclassical American Renaissance had begun to spew from the pens of architects like Richard Morris Hunt, Sanford White and Charles McKim. The old romantic champions of the picturesque were dispersed in full retreat. In 1893, H. H. Richardson was seven years dead, Georgia’s own John Wellborn Root, who had achieved such notable architectural success in Chicago, had died more than a year before the fair opened, and Louis Sullivan, perhaps the most capable traveler on Richardson’s road from the picturesque to modernism, was soon to withdraw into bitter cynicism. In the meantime, the emerging world of American finance was quick to embrace the new classicism. Heralded as “a return to order” and “a rejection of the chaotic reality of urban life” reflected in the picturesque, Beaux-Arts Classicism and an attendant wave of classical revivals were suddenly proclaimed to be “the new architecture of Wall Street” and a symbol for the forces of a boastful American Imperialism. In the North, this national rejection of the picturesque was achieved almost overnight, but the style died a lingering death in the South. Not surprisingly, the Southern post-mortem listed a very different cause of death. The towns of rural Georgia were neither “urban” nor “chaotic ,” and the architecture of Wall Street and American Imperialism found no relevance here. Oversized baroque statements of pure Beaux-Arts Classicism claimed few admirers in the American South before 1910. Although a few of Georgia’s early Neoclassical offerings wore Beaux-Arts trappings, these stood as exceptions to prove the rule, for Morgan County Courthouse at Madison. Photo by Wilber W. Caldwell. it was not in the flamboyant ornament of modern Beaux-Arts Classicism but in the old familiar columns of the accompanying Neoclassical Revival that the South finally found what she had been waiting for, the perfect symbolic resolution to her precarious dilemma. Here was an architecture that could stand for the desired progress sought by the proponents of The New South. At the same time, and without seeming contradiction, it recalled the full-blown myth of the Old South. Here was the individualistic agrarian idealism of Jefferson’s classical legacy, the peculiar distortions of Calhoun’s pseudo Greek democracy, and the tangled tapestry of Southern pride and bitterness that bound them all together into a grand symbol for the evolving mythologies of both Old and New South. By 1900, the myth of the Old South bore little resemblance to any antebellum reality. It had become a pure romance, born of The Lost Cause and slowly transformed by years of poverty and pride into the backbone of a unique and often violent regional psyche. Between 1894 and 1910, Georgians built 40 neoclassical courthouses, 35 of which still stand today COURTHOUSES continued on page 112 OCTOBER 2008 111

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - October 2008

Georgia County Government - October 2008
President's Message
County Matters
South Georgia's Agricultural Heartland Welcomes Economic Diversity, High-Tech Research
What Do You Know About the State's 2008 Constitutional Amendments?
Union County's New Hope Clinic
Counties and the Law: U.S. Supreme Court Increases Burden on Defending Age Claims
Cyber Security Awareness
Are Animal Control Costs Out of Control?
Dave Wills Joins ACCG Staff
Executive DRIVE is the Pinnacle of Gwinnett's Leadership Institute
Preventative Medical Program Succeeds in Chatham County
DCA's Planning & Quality Growth Office Reveals New Regional Planning Approach
Implementation of Georgia's Security & Immigration Compliance Act
The Roundabout: Glynn County's Newest Approach to Traffic Management
Governor Urges Preparation for Digital TV Transition
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership
Wharton Named Program Director for Georgia Centers for Innovation
Army Ranger Turned Police Officer Attends CDP Training
ACCG Staff Attends National Conference of State Legislatures Summit
ACCG Editor, Forsyth County PIO Garner NACIO Awards
GDEcD News: Tourism Grants; Scan-Tech to Expand
Benefit News: GEBCorp Marks Eight Years of Retirement Benefits
Georgia's Courthouses and the American Renaissance
Extension News: Georgia 4-H Impacts Student Achievement, Leadership
Research Center: Best Methods for Creating Ordinances in Your County
CCAP Corner: Walter F. Rosso, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County
NACo News: Association Sponsors 'Green' Competitions
Beth Bradley Joins ACCG Staff
County Parade
Index of Advertising

Georgia County Government - October 2008