Originally called Wattsville and founded in 1823 for the purpose of conducting the county's legal affairs, the town was placed in the geographic center of Houston County, which was then much larger than it is today. The town's name was changed to Perry in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a hero of the War of 1812 (1812-15). On December 9, 1824, the Georgia legislature approved the incorporation of Perry, the first official town in Houston County.
Education has always been important to the people of Perry. In 1824, the year in which the town was chartered, the Georgia legislature also granted a charter to the Houston County Academy of Perry. Today Perry boasts seven public schools and one private school. The original Perry High School, the oldest brick school in the county, is now home to the Houston County Board of Education and contains an exhibit honoring one of Perry's most famous citizens, retired U.S. senator Sam Nunn.
The early twentieth century brought modernization to Perry: the first telephone was installed in 1903, crystal radios appeared in 1905, and electric lighting came to the town in 1912. Several movie theaters opened during this period, with the Roxy advertising the first sound movie in 1927.
Today, Robins Air Force Base, just northeast of Perry, is the city's largest employer. Perry has also expanded its industrial base to include the Frito-Lay Company, which makes snack foods, and Riverwood International, which makes paper packaging.
Perry has always had its share of beautiful homes and architecturally interesting churches. Azaleas, camellias, and dogwoods are abundant. Downtown Perry underwent a facelift around the turn of the twenty-first century and now offers many specialty shops and a new
Other attractions that draw large gatherings to Perry are the 1,100-acre Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, home of the official state fair in October and of numerous livestock and horse events; and the twice yearly Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival, famous throughout the Southeast for its artists, craftsmen, and entertainers.
Harriet Hentz Houser, Hentz, of Things Not Seen (New York: Macmillan, 1955).
Bobbe Hickson Nelson, A Land So Dedicated: The History of Houston County, Georgia (Perry, Ga.: Southern Trellis, 1998).
Susan D. Morris, University of Georgia Libraries
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.