Organizers envisioned Louisville as a trade center, and Commissioners Brownson, Few, and Lawson purchased 1,000 acres on the south side of Rocky Comfort Creek near the Ogeechee River to take advantage of the river transportation. The original city plan, modeled after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, included a raised statehouse in the central square, with streets and town blocks radiating out from that focal point and forming right angles.
The legislature briefly considered making Louisville the home of the University of Georgia but decided to build the Jefferson, or Louisville, Academy there instead. It served as one of a series of schools established to train young men for a university education. By the end of the 1790s Louisville had acquired a cosmopolitan atmosphere, offering a coffeehouse, a debating society, and traveling shows, as well as dancing, fencing, and French lessons. Residents kept in touch with events through the State Gazette and Louisville Journal; the Louisville Gazette, which briefly expanded to the Louisville Gazette and Republican Trumpet; the Independent Register; and later, the Louisville Courier. By 1806 the town had grown to nearly 100 homes with approximately 550 free and slave inhabitants.
Prominent early residents of the Louisville area include Revolutionary patriot Solomon Wood and Joseph
Louisville served as the state capital for ten years. Criticism of the site arose over the vulnerability of its residents to malaria outbreaks, disappointment with the Ogeechee river trade, and the town's inaccessibility to the growing western population. In the fall of 1807 the state government relocated to Milledgeville, and the arrival of the railroad in the nineteenth century turned economic activity away from the old statehouse square. Residents adopted a linear design for their central business district, following a popular trend in Georgia town development during the 1820s and 1830s. Broad Street emerged as the main business thoroughfare and continues in that function today.
Civil War to the Present
The Civil War (1861-65) put Louisville in the path of Union general William T. Sherman's March to the Sea in late 1864. Although Louisville escaped the brunt of the destruction that took place in other Georgia communities, Federal troops set fire to several houses, the jail, and the courthouse, in addition to ransacking private homes. During Reconstruction (1867-76), citizens of Louisville contended with an uprising in August 1870 headed by Cudjo Fye, also known as Figh or Cudjo Lowery, who formed an association of freedmen to protect their civil rights.
Today Louisville remains a farming community, with additional sources of income coming from health and social services, the clay-mining industry, retail sales, finance, and education. The town retains several interesting cultural resources, and residents preserve their rich history through the Jefferson County Historical Society. Louisville is also home to the News and Farmer, a respected regional newspaper, and a thriving local artistic community. The Arts Guild of Jefferson County and two art galleries, Emily's and the Fire House Gallery, both provide outlets for Jefferson County artisans. Furthermore, the town offers an annual spring exhibit of work produced by local and state artists. Other cultural attractions include the Pal Theater on West Broad Street as well as Pansy's Restaurant and the Old Jefferson Hotel, known today as the Queensborough Building.
In 2003 a satellite campus of Sandersville Technical College (later Oconee Fall Line Technical College) was established in Louisville.
Marion Little Durden, A History of Saint George Parish, Colony of Georgia, Jefferson County, State of Georgia (Swainsboro, Ga.: Magnolia Press, 1983).
Yulssus Lynn Holmes, Those Glorious Days: A History of Louisville as Georgia's Capital, 1796-1807 (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1996).
Carol Ebel, Armstrong Atlantic State University
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