Lake Oconee area history encompasses the three main communities of Greensboro, Eatonton, and Madison, Georgia. History buffs will especially enjoy local architecture with its Antebellum and Victorian homes and churches that have been painstakingly restored over the years.
All communities now support local art and culture with the Madison/Morgan Cultural Center the Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton and Festival Hall in Greensboro featuring concerts, plays, art exhibits and local history. All three communities have their share of antique shops, boutiques, quaint country stores and local bill of fare plus tons of history that is right out of the Old South.
Before the Civil War (1861-65) these communities and counties were largely taken over to cotton plantations with a well-to-do white population and a large slave population. Farmers and Plantation owners represented the majority of the original settlers and cotton quickly became the dominant crop. A cotton factories sawmills and gristmills were built to service the area’s other agricultural products and natural resources.
Life during the period of 1820-1850s came closest to the idealistic picture of plantation and small town life in the Old South. By the latter part of the 1840s a rapid increase in building took place. More new and improved houses appeared within the short span of about eight years than at any other time. Brick buildings were built at this time. One-storied Greek revival houses appeared in town and the counties.
Old Greene County Gaol: This 1807 rock jail is one of the oldest penal structures in Georgia. Patterned after Bastilles with castellated battlements.
The area experienced difficulty recovering from the war. The wealth of the great plantations had disappeared and the local area spent the remaining decades of the nineteenth century trying to revive its economy. The area had relied heavily on its cotton crops. However topsoil depletion and the boll weevil had combined to cut cotton production in Georgia in half. A solution came at the turn of the century when dairy production emerged as an economic force.
Up until the 1970’s, the area was one of the poorest in the State. Then in 1979 came Lake Oconee. The creation of Lake Oconee in 1979 helped give birth to tourism, recreation and development in the three Counties surrounding Lake Oconee.
More recent times have brought in major grocery stores, top notch medical facilities, a variety of restaurants and even an 8 plex movie theater. The Lake Oconee Area history has evolved from small rural towns to emerging, thriving communities.
To find out more about our Lake Oconee Area History Contact Pat & Ed Okenica, with RE/MAX at Lake Oconee.