In 1998 the government offices of Douglas County moved out of the courthouse on Broad Street for a new courthouse building on Hospital Drive.
For the first time in 128 years county government was absent from the particular city block bordered by Bowden, Church, Pray, and Broad streets. Many asked what would become of the building where three previous courthouses had stood.
There was talk of selling the building or even demolishing it. And I know it doesn’t seem possible now that the 1956 courthouse would have ever been endangered, but for a time it was.
Thankfully a group of concerned citizens stepped in and persuaded Douglas County officials to save the building due to the historic significance of the city block and the building’s unique structure. They also stated the building could be repurposed for use by the community.
The Board of Commissioners listened and agreed. The concerned group of citizens morphed into the Douglas County Tourism and History Commission, and they began collecting artifacts relating to Douglas County history using much of the first floor of the old courthouse as a museum.
The building alone is an actual historic artifact. It was given National Register status in 2002 due to its historic value to the community as well as its unique architectural style referred to as International.
Sometimes this style is referred to as Mid-Century referring to its rise to prominence during the 1950s. Very few courthouses utilized this style, and it remains a site of interest for architects who come to Douglasville specifically to view it.
The International or Mid-Century Modern style emerged in the late 1920s to 1930s and matured following World War II. Books regarding architecture advise the style characteristics include square or rectangular footprints and all facades having 90 degree angles. Building elements are made up of cubes. Even the windows tend to run in broken, horizontal rows and form grids. Various materials were used in the construction of our 1956 courthouse including glass, aluminum, glazed brick, polished granite and North Georgia marble including some black marble.
The Douglas County Museum of History and Art is one of those little gems that many don’t know about even though it’s been in existence for 15 years. After 15 years the folks at the museum think it’s time for a grand opening.
Since the first of the year the museum and many of the museum exhibits have undergone a revamping process from the addition of a Tourism Center, a room dedicated to the Douglas County Hall of Fame members, and a gift shop, to reorganization of some exhibitions. Many new items are on display, too.
You will want to see this, whether it’s your first time or you are a returning visitor.
The grand opening will be this Friday, May 15 at 1 p.m. The museum will be open until 6 p.m. that day.
Beginning Tuesday, May 19th the museum will open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Douglas County History and Tourism Commission also invites you to become involved in preserving and presenting the history and heritage of our community by becoming a docent/volunteer at the museum.
They are also accepting artifacts from individuals, too.
Give the museum a call at 770-949-4090 for more information or better yet drop by on the 15th in person!
I’ll be there and can’t wait to say hello!
Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can also find her Facebook page for Douglas County history under the name “Every Now and Then,” and visit her website at lisalandcooper.com for even more stories.