The town of Milledgeville, Georgia is a former capital of the state and one of the best preserved antebellum towns of the old South.
I had always wondered what “antebellum” meant as it is not a word in common usage. It refers to a time before the American Civil War, and is associated with the neoclassical architectural style of the great plantation houses, for which Greek influences such as massive pillars were used in their construction.
Milledgeville, therefore, is a very graceful city where the streets are shaded by magnificent oak trees, and around the town wonderful historic public buildings, and grand antebellum homes abound.
“The city was the capital of Georgia from 1804 until 1868, so has a great Civil War pedigree, even if the Confederates did lose the war.”
One of the best places to gleam knowledge of this tragic event is at Georgia’s Old Capital Museum where you can experience real Civil War history in the building where Georgia legislators voted to secede from the Union.
To more fully understand the pre-Civil War political history, it is worth visiting the Old Capitol.
Built in 1807, the Old Capitol is considered the first example of Gothic architecture in a public building in the United States. It served as the seat of government for the State of Georgia from 1807 to 1868, and in its legislative chambers the Secession Convention was held in 1861. Since 1879, Georgia Military College has occupied the historic site.
The best place to discover Milledgeville’s many attractions is at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on West Hancock Street. A Trolley Tour leaves from the Bureau at regular intervals and takes you on a land cruise through the landmark historic district which includes rotating visits to the Old State Capitol, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and the Brown-Stetson-Sanford House.
One of the most interesting places to visit is the Lockerly Arboretum which is like a little time capsule along the Antebellum Trail. It is a grand old home with lovely gardens. With stunningly beautiful, well-manicured grounds, the property features trees, shrubs, lake, and flower beds which will enchant you.
Such was the prosperity of the town in the early 1800s, so much construction was underway that the Milledgeville Federal style of architecture was born. This style of designed was comprised of colossal porticos, cantilevered balconies, pediments adorned with sunbursts, and fan-lighted doorways which made the town one of the most elegant in North America.