Thursday, January 13, 2011

Capital, Columns & Culture

A liberal education... frees a man from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family and even his nation. ~Robert Maynard Hutchins

As promised, I wanted to share with you various stories about where I came from, including the people and places that made a difference in my life.
My next stop - Milledgeville, Georgia. Why? It's where I went to college.
Which college? Georgia College & State University.
Not only that, a few years into a my adult life, I returned to live in Milledgeville for a job, but I have to admit - it was a completely different experience the second time around. 

Let me share a little history with you (info found on the MCVB website) - it all began in 1803, when the state of Georgia searched for a site for its new capital.  Because this area offered a central location and ample springs, it was the perfect spot.  The planned capital city took shape and was given the name Milledgeville in honor of John Milledge, governor of Georgia (1802-1806) and donor of the land for the University of Georgia.  For more than 60 years, it remained the capital during a period of state history that witnessed appearances by many notable figures.  Many area homes and structures survived the periodic fires and willful destruction of the War Between the States.

After 1815 Milledgeville became increasingly prosperous and more respectable. Wealth and power gravitated toward the capital, Central State Hospital, late 19th century and the surrounding countryside was caught up in the middle of a cotton boom. Streets were lined with cotton bales waiting to be shipped downriver to Darien. Such skilled architects as John Marlor and Daniel Pratt were designing elegant houses; colossal porticos, cantilevered balconies, pediments adorned with sunbursts, and fanlighted doorways all proclaimed the Milledgeville Federal style of architecture.

The major churches built fine new houses of worship on Statehouse Square. The completion in 1817 of the Georgia Penitentiary heralded a new era of penal reform. Public-spirited citizens like Tomlinson Fort (mayor of Milledgeville, 1847–48) promoted better newspapers, learning academies, and banks. In 1837-42 the Georgia Lunatic Asylum (later the Central State Hospital) was developed.

Oglethorpe University, where the poet Sidney Lanier was educated, opened its doors in 1838. (The college, forced to close in 1862, was rechartered in 1913, with its campus in Atlanta.) The cotton boom also significantly increased the slave population; by 1828 the town claimed 1,599 inhabitants: 789 free whites, 27 free blacks, and 783 African American slaves. The town market, where slave auctions were held, stood next to the Presbyterian church on Capital Square.

Black carpenters, masons, and laborers constructed most of the handsome antebellum structures in Milledgeville. Two events epitomized Milledgeville's status as the political and social center of Georgia in these years. The first was the visit to the capital in 1825 by the Revolutionary War (1775–83) hero the Marquis de Lafayette. The receptions, barbecue, formal dinner, and grand ball for this veteran apostle of liberty seemed to mark Milledgeville's coming of age. The second event was the construction (1836-38/39) of the Governor's Mansion, one of the most important examples of Greek revival architecture in America.

On January 19, 1861, Georgia convention delegates passed the Ordinance of Secession, and the "Republic of Georgia" joined the Confederate States of America, to the accompaniment of wild celebration, bonfires, and illuminations on Milledgeville's Statehouse Square. Three years later, on a bitterly cold November day, Union general William T. Sherman and 30,000 Union troops marched into Milledgeville. When they left a couple of days later, the statehouse had been ransacked; the state arsenal and powder magazine had been destroyed; the penitentiary, the central depot, and the Oconee bridge were burned; and the surrounding countryside was devastated. In 1868, during Reconstruction, the capital was moved to Atlanta—a city emerging as the symbol of the New South as surely as Milledgeville symbolized the Old South.

Milledgeville spent the remaining years of the 19th century trying to survive the loss of the capital. Through the energetic efforts of local leaders, the Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College (later Georgia Military College)  was established in 1879 on Statehouse Square. Where the crumbling remains of the old penitentiary stood, Georgia Normal and Industrial College (later Georgia College & State University) was founded in 1889. In part because of these institutions, as well as Central State Hospital, Milledgeville remained a less provincial town than many of its neighbors

The most famous 20th-century Milledgevillians, however, form an unusual trio. In 1910 eighteen-year-old Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame, moved to Milledgeville, where his mother managed the stately old Baldwin Hotel, and stayed for three years. U.S. Congressman Carl Vinson represented his hometown of Milledgeville and central Georgia for fifty years (1914–65). The writer Flannery O'Connor came as a young girl with her family to Milledgeville from Savannah. O'Connor, a 1945 graduate of Georgia State College for Women, did much of her best writing in Milledgeville at her family's farm, Andalusia, which offers public tours. Her critically acclaimed short stories and novels have secured her reputation as a major American writer.

In the 1950s the Georgia Power Company completed a dam at Furman Shoals, about five miles (8 km) north of town, creating a huge reservoir called Lake Sinclair. The lake community became an increasingly important part of the town's social and economic identity. In the 1980s and 1990s Milledgeville began to capitalize on its heritage by revitalizing the downtown and historic district.

**source CBV & Wikipedia

With it's rich history, and amazing university, it is clear why I choose to spend 18 - 24 in this fabulous little town.
When I was choosing colleges, I had three in mind: GC&SU (the one I went to), Valdosta State & Georgia Southern. I never had a desire to attend UGA (though my sister went there.) I wanted something a little smaller, a little more intimate - I knew that I could excell in a more "classical" & liberal arts" environment. Now, don't think it was any cheaper- no. It is the only public liberal arts university in Georgia. Translation - private school values and curriculum in a smaller setting.

Some of the best years of my life were spent here. I was a journalism major, and at my school - you had to choose one of three tracts - Telecommunications (Radio & TV), Print or PR/Advertising. I choose Telecommunications. I was essentially a broadcast journalism major at the top school in Georgia for journalism!

Here are some quick facts about GC&SU:
The campus combines the southern charm of Georgia – columned buildings, green lawns, and tree-lined streets – with the resources of a leading liberal arts university – and a faculty that cares about the students.

The main campus is 43 acres. It is at the heart for academic and student life.

The university was founded in 1889 as Georgia Normal & Industrial College. The school has also been named Georgia State College for Women, the Women's College of Georgia, Georgia College and since 1996, Georgia College & State University.In all, students come from many backgrounds, cultures and interests at Georgia College. Most of our students are residents of Georgia, but the campus hosts students from other states as well. There is also a growing international student population, about 125 international students from dozens of countries.

Georgia College is a campus alive with Greek life, intramural sports, campus and community activities, as well as an abundance of honor and academic societies. In fact, we have over a hundred registered clubs and organizations.
Some of my best memories were walking the campus of GC & SU. I met some of the nicest people, and fell in love with the little city.  Since you might have read about my little hometown of Macon, Milledgeville is just 45 minutes from Macon. If you ever want to take a trip off the beaten path - I would highly suggest you visit Millegeville. I am sure there is enough to do for at least a day or two trip.

I will leave you with a few pictures from Milledgeville - including some pics (just a few) of the color characters I met there.

Okay - this cemetary has some really freaky characters buried there, including many slave graves (that literally have shackles on them.) Check out the website HERE

Main Campus.

One of my favorite places to eat. Most of the kids congregate here at night. It looks a little different from my old days - but the menu is EXACTLY the same. You can see it HERE

Front campus

This is one of my room mates in college - Shawn.  Look at me with all of that curly hair! LOL I was probably 21 here.

My final year of college - 96 - my room mate Angela and I. You can read her blog HERE

Three of my closest friends (at the time) - Merri, Dave & Lisa.

Last day of freshmen year  (i am in the middle) - Telisa, Katie, me, and Merri

I am probably 20 here (front bottom right) - Getting ready to go out. Lord, look at our clothes. Very 90s.

Merri & Janice at "The Bus." Lord have mercy.

That's just a few of the pics I will share. To those who know, I am going to say two things - TATER LOGS AND OPERA HOUSE. Oh yeah - and one more - remember those orange crush drinks - what the hell was in that?

"College is the best time of your life. When else are your parents going to spend several thousand dollars a year just for you to go to a strange town and get drunk every night? "~David Wood


Anonymous said...

What a great post! Loved it! And the college photos and memories? Cool!

becca said...

i've always wanted to come visit GA


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