Americus, Georgia

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Americus, Georgia
City
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; -84.22667Coordinates: 32°4′31″N 84°13′36″W / 32.07528°N 84.22667°W / 32.07528; -84.22667
Country United States
State Georgia
County Sumter
Area
 • Total 10.7 sq mi (27.6 km2)
 • Land 10.5 sq mi (27.1 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 479 ft (146 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 17,041
 • Density 1,590/sq mi (616.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 31709, 31710, 31719
Area code(s) 229
FIPS code 13-02116[1]
GNIS feature ID 0331037[2]
Website www.cityofamericus.net

Americus is a city in Sumter County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 17,041.[3] Americus is the home of Habitat for Humanity International's international headquarters, the famous Windsor Hotel (from 1892), The Fuller Center for Housing international headquarters, The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving [1], Glover Foods and many more well-known organizations.

The city is the county seat of Sumter County.[4] Americus 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.[1]

Geography[edit]

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).[6]

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) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (1.87%) is water.

History[edit]

Americus Historic District
Windsor-Hotel-Americus-GA-1.jpg
Location Irregular 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
Coordinates 32°4′2″N 84°14′5″W / 32.06722°N 84.23472°W / 32.06722; -84.23472
Built 1859 (increase)
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Classical Revival, Late Gothic Revival, Romanesque
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 76000648 (original)
79003319[7] (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 1, 1976
Boundary increase September 3, 1979

Early years[edit]

Americus was founded in 1832 and designated seat of the newly formed Sumter County.[8]

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[edit]

For the local minority community, Rev. Dr. Major W. Reddick established the Americus Institute for thirdinary Education (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 institutions of higher learning 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.

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.

Americus and the Civil Rights Movement[edit]

Koinonia Farm, an interracial Christian community, was organized near Americus in 1942. Founder Clarence Jordan was a mentor to Millard and Linda Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity International at Koinonia in 1976 before moving into Americus the following year. In 2005, they founded The Fuller Center for Housing, also in Americus. Koinonia Farm is currently located southwest of Americus on Hwy. 49.

The Civil Rights Era in Americus was a time of great turmoil; violent opposition to Koinonia by racist elements led to the bombing of a store uptown in 1957. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent a weekend in the courthouse jail in 1961, after an arrest in Albany. The "Sumter Movement" to end racial segregation was organized and led by Rev. Joseph R. Campbell in 1963. As a direct result, two Georgia laws were subsequently declared unconstitutional by a federal tribunal meeting in Americus. 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. Americus' nadir in this respect had occurred in 1913, when a young black man named Will Redding murdered Police Chief W.C. Barrow in a fit of rage and was then lynched by a white mob.

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 37,013 people, 6,374 households, and 4,149 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,623.1 people per square mile (626.8/km²). There were 7,053 housing units at an average density of 672.9 per square mile (259.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 39.05% White, 58.26% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.86% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.49% of the population.

There were 6,374 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.2% were married couples living together, 27.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 79.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,808, and the median income for a family was $32,132. Males had a median income of $27,055 versus $20,169 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,168. About 23.4% of families and 27.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.1% of those under age 18 and 19.8% of those age 65 or over.

Economy[edit]

Largest Employers[edit]

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[11] the largest employers in the area are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Sumter County Schools 950
2 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[edit]

Sumter County School District[edit]

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.[12] The district has 353 full-time teachers and over 5,774 students.[13]

Elementary Schools[edit]

  • Sumter County Elementary School
  • Sumter County Primary School

Middle Schools[edit]

  • Staley Middle School
  • Sumter County Middle School

High Schools[edit]

Private Education[edit]

  • Southland Academy- Southland currently has 600 students from 4 year old kindergarten through 12 grade. It is a part of the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA).

Higher Education[edit]

All schools and colleges are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), with the exception of South Georgia Technical College. It is in the candidacy stage to being accredited by SACS.

Tornado[edit]

Americus was hit by a tornado around 9:15 P.M. on March 1, 2007. The EF-3 tornado was up to one mile wide, and carved a 38-mile path of destruction through the city and surrounding residential areas.[16] 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."[17] Over 500 homes were affected, with around 100 completely destroyed. Several businesses throughout the town were seriously damaged or destroyed as well. Among the businesses suffering major damage were Winn Dixie supermarket, Wendy's, Zaxby's, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, and several local businesses. The Winn Dixie was completely destroyed. Domino's Pizza has since reopened, as well as Winn Dixie.

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

Notable people[edit]

Prominent citizens of Americus include:

Baseball in Americus[edit]

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.

Tourism[edit]

[18]

  • Drummer Boy Museum
  • Georgia Rural Telephone Museum
  • Georgia Veteran's State Park

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_SF1_GCTP2.ST13&prodType=table
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ MICROPOLITAN STATISTICAL AREAS AND COMPONENTS, Office of Management and Budget, 2007-05-11. Accessed 2008-07-27.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  8. ^ Hellmann, Paul T. (May 13, 2013). Historical Gazetteer of the United States. Routledge. p. 216. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  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. ^ "City of Americus 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (PDF). Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Georgia Board of Education, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  13. ^ School Stats, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  14. ^ Georgia Southwestern State University, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  15. ^ South Georgia Technical College, Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  16. ^ http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/html/pns3107.txt
  17. ^ WALb.com News, Weather and Sports for Albany, Valdosta and Thomasville. Leading the way for South Georgia. | Sumter hospital shows tornado's worst punch
  18. ^ http://www.americusga.gov/#!area-attractions/cmuv

External links[edit]