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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Welcome to Douglasville


During the middle of February when we began to have more sun than snow I ventured out one Sunday afternoon to walk around downtown Douglasville and to take a few pictures of this and that.

One of the locations where I spent a few minutes snapping away was along O'Neal Plaza at the old Douglasville Banking Company space. The Georgia General Assembly chartered the bank in 1886 (see the Act here), and they moved into the Broad Street location in in 1904. Many of the city's founders were instrumental in getting the bank opened including Joseph S. James, John P. Watson, Samuel N. Dorsett, as well as John T. Duncan who was the first president of the financial institution per the walking brochure the City of Douglasville published and has available at the Welcome Center.

The building itself is a lovely example of Beaux-Arts architecture!

Many buildings erected from 1880 to 1920 exhibit Beaux-Arts influence including flat roofs, arched windows, and as the old bank building exhibits - lots of sculptural decoration.  The building is constructed of Chattanooga pressed brick with marble trimming.  Inside, the large arched windows look out on the traffic along Broad Street and the water fountain in O'Neal Plaza.

Once inside the location I couldn't take my eyes from the stamped tin ceiling, moldings, and the classic light fixtures. The tin ceiling is original to the location and more than likely it was originally painted white as it is today because tin ceilings were used as a substitute for more expensive hand-carved or molded plaster. Painting the tin white helped to give it a rich appearance folks desired at the time.

Today the Douglasville Banking Company space is home to the City of Douglasville Welcome Center and Broad Street Gifts. At first thought I know many residents in Douglas County might be quick to question the need for a visitor's center, but I think those same citizens would be most surprised to realize how many out of town visitors stop by the center every year.

Pat Smith was on duty at the center when I arrived last Friday afternoon for a second visit, and she shared the center's guest book with me. I was amazed to see entries from folks from various states and countries including Germany.

All sorts of information can be found at the center regarding Douglasville as well as other travel destinations across the state. In fact, before my next Georgia road trip I'm going to stop in and pick up some travel brochures right here in Douglasville instead of waiting to reach a rest stop.

While the gift shop is a nice touch for visitors I plan to stop in again within the next few days because I eyed quite a few things I might want.  Broad Street Gifts is the only location that I know of where post cards can be purchased with present day scenes of Douglasville and some from the past.

Before I went on my way Smith asked me if I knew about the owl.

"Owl?  What owl? I inquired.

She walked outside with me and pointed up. There it was up on the edge of the building overlooking the traffic on Broad Street.  I'm pretty sure after doing a little research the owl is up there to scare away birds and keep them from "decorating" the side of the building, but it is an interesting addition.

The Candler Building in Atlanta also follows the Beaux-Arts style. I've written about and share some pictures at one of my weblogs, Georgia on my Mind.

This post first appeared at Douglasville Patch, March 28, 2011.

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