Top 5 Historical Tourist Attractions
Those that reside in Newton County know all too well that where they live is timeless and full of stories from days of old. There is a sense that the history buried in the century-old buildings and monuments scattered throughout this region of the south will never fade. The classic character filling all five regions of Newton County has been passed down from generation to generation. Be on the lookout for old secrets you are sure to uncover, because Covington is a treasure chest of decades gone by.
Historic Newborn Schoolhouse
The town of Newborn, brought to life in 1819, is prized as the first settlement in the Newton area and you can certainly tell the citizens there have held steadfast to their heritage. The Historic Newborn Schoolhouse is a testament to that as it was originally opened in 1924 and still stands today. Founder, John W. Pitts, originally named the two-story wooden building Palmyra Institute, after his eldest daughter. During the 1920s and 30s, children in the area from first to the eleventh grade received their education here. No longer an institute of learning, it is now an establishment available to rent where community events for all ages are held. Newborn’s annual Hornyhead Fish Tournament and Festival is held here each spring. It is also home to a museum showcasing accounts and anecdotes from years past.
When it comes to designating only one magnet of historical importance in Oxford, GA, it is quite a difficult task to accomplish. Most every street and structure found throughout the City of Oxford echo the preservation of their beginnings. Old Church is no exception, now used as an event facility and where fifth graders in the Newton County School System come to learn a history lesson. It is here in the pulpit of what was considered a traditional Methodist church, Atticus Haygood delivered his progressive “New South” sermon in 1880. It received enough national acclaim to fall on the ears of a Boston banker, George Seney, and prompted him to donate enough money to Emory of Oxford College to eradicate its debts. Hailing as one of the oldest standing buildings in the area since its construction in 1841, the Oxford Historical Shrine Society prioritizes the upkeep of what once was the first Methodist Church established in Oxford. An added historical bonus is “Kitty’s Cottage”, placed just behind Old Church, with a storyline with a plot reminiscent of the “The War Between the States”.
Porter Memorial Gymnasium
Porterdale, GA, known as “A Friendly Place to Live” as reflected on the welcome sign upon entering the now river mill village, was once a model textile town that provided work for any and all seeking employment. The Porter family is to thank for that, particularly Oliver S. Porter and his son, James, instrumental in bringing Bibb Manufacturing to Porterdale in 1898. A community flourishing in occupation calls for a balance in its livelihood. James H. Porter recognized this need in 1938 and commissioned Ellamae Ellis League, the fourth woman registered as an architect in Georgia, to design a gymnasium for the area’s residents. In 2005, this Greek Revival recreational centerpiece suffered a devastating fire that greatly damaged the interior after the roof collapsed. Rehabilitation efforts have been successful in rebuilding the Porter Memorial Gymnasium into what it is now a unique open-air venue for markets, concerts, and cultural arts events.
Mansfield’s Famous Southpaw Marker
The “Front Porch” of Newton County rests in Mansfield, GA, where tales of a simpler life are remembered fondly. One such story unfolds around Sherrod Malone “Sherry” Smith, who has his own historical marker on Georgia Highway 11 South and was known as Mansfield’s Famous Southpaw. At the youthful age of 19, Smith became a professional baseball player that had perfected his left-handed pitching skills while growing up in Mansfield and Newborn. His career began with the Pittsburgh Pirates, moving to the Brooklyn Robins (now the Dodgers), where he pitched fourteen innings against the great Babe Ruth in the second game of the 1916 World Series. Ruth cited him “the greatest pickoff artist that ever lived”, as only two bases were stolen in the span of Smith’s career. The draft of World War I took him off to serve in the army and afterward he returned to play for the Cleveland Indians. The posthumous Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inductee served the remainder of his years in law enforcement and is buried alongside his wife in Mansfield.
Downtown Covington certainly doesn’t disappoint in the historical department, but perhaps some of the city’s fond memories are in a pharmacy “where friends meet”. City Pharmacy came to the corner of the Covington square in 1923, a place where locals could find elixirs and tonics to help remedy afflictions of the times. It quickly became a place where residents could come sit and stay awhile, as it was one of the only spots to grab a bite to eat while in town. Ownership of the business changed hands in the late 1950s as well as the name, becoming Evans Pharmacy, but still opened its doors as a community gathering space. Families could come in for a soda concoction from swirling house-made syrups or a scoop of ice cream while picking up prescriptions for their conditions. The modern-day City Pharmacy, holding on to the original namesake, now stands as a dining option with a funky flair that honors its roots. Handcrafted cocktails nostalgically named after medicinal properties and décor from the pharmacy sprinkled throughout the restaurant, such as original prescription bottles and the scripts themselves, invites its patrons to remember the past while enjoying big city dining options.
One can only scratch the surface of historical interest in the area. This guide opens the door to creating your own exploration into the yesteryear of Newton County as well as the top tourist attractions in Georgia.