Boom to Bust 1880-1900

The growth in the business district brought the need for some guidelines for growth. The fire had demonstrated the lack of construction control. The city council wrote the first building codes; all store rooms, storehouses, and dwellings had to be made of brick. The city limits would extend from a point in the middle of the intersection in front of Stafford's Store out 1 1/2 miles. Stafford's Store stands today at the corner of Market and Main Streets.


The fire brought new growth in terms of buildings, labors and businesses. A brick factory worked night and day to supply the bricks for rebuilding. In spite of their efforts, hundreds of car loads of Chattahoochee brick were brought into town by rail. Many hired hands moved to town to work for contractors who had arrived by train. Building supplies firms were started up and temporary housing for the hired hands was in demand.


Another result of the fire was the erection of a fire house. This new building would house the city council upstairs, the fire house on the ground floor, and a calaboose (jail) in the rear of the building on Jackson Street. This building faced the old hotel and was located near the center of town at the corner of Forsyth and Jackson Streets. Today, the City of Barnesville offices are in this building. The City Council now meets in the Barnesville Police building at 100 Mill Street. The fire department is now located in new facilities built in 1992 next door. The jail is now located in its third location recently completed outside the historic district. The new location was completed in December of 1992. The regional drug task force offices are located in the old city council chambers upstairs.


The city clock that kept the business district on time was moved from atop the old hotel in 1932 to the bell tower of city ball where it still operates today. The city built a water works and a new reservoir and erected an electric plant. A new fire engine was purchased and the town swelled with pride.


The Presbyterian Church erected a beautiful house of worship at the corner of Main and Taylor Streets in 1897. The New South Savings Bank was chartered in 1890 and business was booming until 1901. A "general economic depression" put the entire southern region in economic turmoil. Not only did most local businesses collapse, the local banks closed their doors. The banks were reopened under government orders which put them under receiverships. The banks reopened under the Barnesville Bank and the First National Bank in 1902. The New South Savings Bank reopened under the firm of Citizen's Bank in 1902. The Citizen's Bank would merge with First National Bank at the time of the "Great Depression" in 1929.


During this period the streets downtown were maintained by a Street crew. The sidewalks were made with diagonal boards and under laid with charcoal for sanitary conditions. The area around the depot was made into a park to beautify the arrival area of the trains.


The Barnesville Blues re-organized during this period and became an active militia unit again. They trained for the Spanish-American War in drills at the armory which was part of Gordon Institute's campus. This campus at that time was on the original site between Thomaston Street and Greenwood Streets.


Most of the town's dwellings were erected during this time period. After the 1884 fire, residential construction was as rapid as was commercial construction. Most of the homes on Thomaston, Greenwood, Holmes, Elm, and Forsyth Streets, and Brown Avenue were built during this period.


Many of the business proprietors were rebuilding downtown and at the same time building residences. A great demand for building supplies was created by the fire. Also construction hands, contractors, and a planing mill were in demand. The number of jobs created by the fire brought new workers to town to fill these jobs. Many of those new workers stayed on.