Monday, November 10, 2014

Road Trip 18: Sparta Georgia a Ruin that Lives and Haunts

Every few minutes a pole truck rounded Veterans Park on Highway 16 passing the ruin of Hancock County Courthouse.

Even at dusk under the dull overcast sky the courthouse was a fine ruin. The August 11 fire was a blow but Sparta still stands.

20140929_184451 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia Hancock County Courthouse ruin Drive Home from Hilton Head
I'm not a believer in ghosts yet Sparta haunts me. The empty houses had more to tell that I could bear.

20140929_182548 2014-09-29 Drive Home from Hilton Head Sparta Georgia
There's a six block commercial district but not much commerce.

20140929_183817 2014-09-29  Hon W H Burwell House Sparta Georgia o Drive Home from Hilton Head Sparta Georgia
This town had it's heyday before the boll weevil. And what a heyday.

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Now many of it's mansions are for sale.

20140929_183949 2014-09-29 Drive Home from Hilton Head Sparta Georgia
Even the "little" houses stood proud.

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They really know how to do porches.

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This seemed to be waiting for its fire.

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East Adams Street.

20140929_184633 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia Drive Home from Hilton Head
Graves Barn.

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These amazing houses left us wondering about everything.

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Do they have a future?

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This one is tidy for now.

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This one not.

20140929_185617 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia

20140929_185719 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia Drive Home from Hilton Head
Elegant but not tidy. Is this one wasting away?

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This porch has a tilt.

20140929_185901 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia yellow Regency
Fresh paint.

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Fresh porch.

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There seemed to be another one around every corner.

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And another one.

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This one wasn't like the others. I spoke with the guy in the yard. "It's a house and it's for sale if you want to buy it."

20140929_185927  2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia
We were snooping among the ruins. In the city, in Detroit they'd call this ghetto tourism.

20140929_190039 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia Drive Home from Hilton Head
Doomed on Maiden Lane?

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The side of "Doomed" on Maiden Lane.

IMG_3040 2014-09-29 Sparta Georgia

20140929_184107 2014-09-29 Hancock County Courthouse ruin Sparta Georgia Hancock County Courthouse ruin Drive Home from Hilton Head
Every few minutes we caught the smell of pine rosin as a pole truck roared by the courthouse.


  1. Wow, it's been about a year since I've passed through Sparta. I had no idea the courthouse had burned down. I wonder if they plan to rebuild. We used to pass through there sometimes to get to our property in Sandersville. Businesses were in short supply in the area. We liked the "old" feel of the town, and always thought if small, eclectic shops opened that offered something different, it might spark something there.

    1. I understand that they will rebuild the courthouse, I hope so.

    2. Sparta, as well as most of Hancock Co., simply does not want to grow. I worked there for 4yrs. and that's the only way to put it. They have had many offers extended to them to pull themselves up out of the rut (?) they've found themselves in for the past 35 years or so but it's all fallen on deaf ears. all one has to do is look across the lake to Green Co. and see the possibilities but alas, no such effort has been forwarded by those at the wheel in Hancock Co.

      It's a shame. Some really nice people and wonderfully bright young adults and children continue to pay the price for others apathy. I guess they figure working at the local prison is advancement enough in life.

    3. I am proud to call Hancock County my home base. I grew up in Devereux, a wonderful place. The community of friends and relatives were always there to support my early years. Our county had one of the finest 4-H groups in the state, with excellent leaders, and always had more district and state winners in competitions. My church Devereux UMC was a vibrant part of my life and I also participated in many activities at the Baptist Church. We had a wonderful school in Devereux for grades 1-7 and great teachers. Lanelle Armour was my teacher in the 1st grade and grades 4-7, and I count her as a great friend and teacher, one who made a tremendous difference in my life and she still does. I go back to Hancock County as often as I can, although I have no relatives left there. At one time there were over 100 Colemans in the county.
      Recently Sistie Green Hudson was elected chair person of the Board of Commissioners, and I feel that she is doing a GREAT job of trying to get the county back on it's feet. Sistie has worked diligently on trying to get the courthouse rebuilt and other projects too. I know that there are improvements being made, one is the Elm Street Gardens, who bring their organic vegetables and mushrooms, to the Morningside Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. I have bought some of their wonderful produce several times.
      I am not giving up on my home county and disagree t with the Anonymous writer. I hope and pray that the next few years will prove this person wrong. I know that this will not happen overnnight but I am confidant that Sparta, Hancock County and my beloved Devereux will come back to life!

  2. Trip 18 is my favorite so far. Makes me want to go to Sparta myself!

    1. I guess that's why Andrew said we should go there.

  3. Terry, thank you for all the photos...I've been through Sparta on my way to Milledgeville, right before the courthouse burned, in fact, but only stopped for a brief moment and took some photos. Two places you should not miss if you go back: the full-service gas station right next to the courthouse, which is straight out of Mayberry, and has a really nice owner running the place, and the drug store on the main street there that sells giant ice cream cones (vanilla and chocolate) for a dollar. I am heading back for a longer visit, thanks to your post!! I love how it's frozen in time.

  4. Brooke Brown SmithApril 3, 2015 at 12:27 AM

    I was born and raised in Sparta. Even though I don't live there now my family does and I would give anything to move back HOME and raise my children there. No there isn't much there right now but what is there that I know is the BEST people you will ever meet who love and support their family, friends and neighbors. There is a sense of community there that you don't find most places these days. Sparta Baptist will always be my church, JHA will always be my school and Sparta will always be my home. There are local businesses there that are wonderful with wonderful people running them. Just to name a few I'm very partial to the Sparta Flower Shop that my Great Grandma Started and has been in my Family for three generations now. My Aunt who is as talented as she is sweet does the best flowers you will find anywhere and I'm not an easy customer to please :) Love you GinGin!! Websters Pharmacy is staffed with the Best people you could ever meet and they go above and beyond for their customers. I remember when my Aunt's house and flower shop burned down in the middle of the night and they made sure my grandma had insulin because they knew hers was in the house. That is what kind of people are In Sparta looking out for each other. And YES they still have the Best Ice cream around too. I Love the Websters like family too!!! Rooms You love is a charming little shop with unique home items!! I'm sitting in bed right now by an antique sewing machine that was made into a night stand I got from there and Love it!! The owner Ms Maria is as sweet as she can be and has a great eye for unique finds!! Mr. Ace and Ms. Louann are two more local businesses owners in Sparta that I love and love to see in their shop on the rare occasions I am in town while all these great shops are open. Another one of Sparta's Unique treasure's is Sparta Mushrooms. I've heard great things and seen amazing pictures of all the fresh, organic produce he has and wish I lived closer to get to try all of it!!! And if you go across the street you can also find most anything in Mr. Glen's General store and I always enjoy seeing him and his sweet pups there!! And next door you can get you some good country cooking at Value Mart, love going there after church on Sundays, Yummy food and friendly folks!! And if you want the best BBQ in GA you'll find it at Straws. I never leave Sparta without some BBQ and stew to go!!! Also some of the friendliest people around!! I could go on and on about the fine people in Sparta. Yes it's small but I wouldn't change one thing about how it was when I grew up. I also can't say enough about Ms. Sistie Hudson and how much she loves this town and how hard she works to improve it!!! I still cry when I see the courthouse but I am excited for it's rebuild!!! So the next time you come through stop by and support some of the wonderful businesses and people I promise you'll be glad you did. And if you live there don't complain about this community if you do nothing to help make it better and you don't support the businesses there!!! I Love this town and the fine people in it and I never leave it with dry eyes!!!


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